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Psychiatry Res. 1991 May;37(2):147-60.

Cellular immunity in schizophrenic patients before and during neuroleptic treatment.

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  • 1Department of Neurochemistry, University of Munich, Germany.


A possible connection between immunological alterations and schizophrenia has been discussed for many years. We studied 55 schizophrenic patients in an acute stage of illness before they began neuroleptic treatment. 35 patients who showed clinical improvement on neuroleptics, and 51 healthy controls. Our interest was focused on parameters of cellular immunity. We found an increased lymphocyte response to stimulation with pokeweed mitogen (PWM) and phytohemagglutinin (PHA) in patients before neuroleptic therapy and also an increased response to stimulation with PWM and PHA during treatment compared to controls. Stimulation with antigens generally showed a lower lymphocyte response in patients than in controls, but the difference was only significant after stimulation with tuberculin before neuroleptic treatment and after stimulation with varidase, diphteria-toxoid, tuberculin, vaccinia, and rubella during neuroleptic treatment. The number of CD3+ and CD4+ cells, but not the number of CD8+ cells, was increased before and during treatment in comparison to controls. Suppressor-cell activity was reduced in three different suppressor cell assays before and during neuroleptic medication compared to controls. We therefore conclude that alterations of the immunological system which are, as has been demonstrated, not due to treatment with neuroleptics might play a role in schizophrenia.

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