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The search for morphological clues to the etiology of schizophrenia has led to widespread application of computed tomography (CT) scans in the examination of patients. These investigations have resulted in numerous reports over the past several years of brain atrophy and increased ventricle-brain ratios (VBR), suggestive of neuronal tissue damage, associated with the disorder. Altered activity of cellular antioxidant systems have been implicated in the neuronal cell loss that is associated with degenerative diseases of the central nervous system (CNS), but this phenomenon has not been investigated with respect to functional disorders like schizophrenia. A search for such a relationship in schizophrenics with evidence of brain atrophy has been initiated by measuring the activity of the important antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase (GPx) in blood samples from a population of chronic schizophrenics and age- and sex-matched nonschizophrenic mental patients as controls. A strong negative correlation has been found between GPx activity in both isolated platelets and erythrocytes and CT scan measures of brain atrophy and VBR in the schizophrenics, but not in the control population, which exhibited comparable CT scan abnormalities. These observations suggest a unique relationship of GPx to the mechanism of tissue damage in the schizophrenics.
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Received in revised form: February 24, 1987
Received: November 22, 1986The authors wish to express their appreciation to Dr. Nina Sachinvola and Dr. Harold VonScotti for their cooperation and advice in the clinical aspects of this study; to Deborah Digaro, Veronica Greene, and Kamelya Moradzadeh for their expert technical assistance, and to Dr. Lynn Fairbanks for aid in data analysis.
☆Research supported in part by NIMH Grant 5-R01-MH39600.
© 1987 Published by Elsevier Inc.