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Transl Psychiatry. 2017 Aug 22;7(8):e1215. doi: 10.1038/tp.2017.178.

Reduction of plasma glutathione in psychosis associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in translational psychiatry.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.


The establishment of mechanism-driven peripheral markers is important for translational psychiatry. Many groups, including ours, have addressed molecular alterations in peripheral tissues in association with symptomatic changes in major illnesses. Oxidative stress is implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia (SZ) and bipolar disorder (BP) through studies of patient peripheral tissues and animal models. Although the relationship between peripheral changes and brain pathology remain elusive, oxidative stress may bridge such translational efforts. Nonetheless, the molecular substrates of oxidative stress are not well defined in mental conditions. Glutathione (GSH) is a non-enzymatic antioxidant that eliminates free radicals, and has been suggested to have a role in SZ. We performed a cross-sectional study of 48 healthy controls (CON), 52 SZ patients and 62 BP patients to compare the levels of peripheral GSH by a biochemical enzyme assay. We show a significant reduction of plasma GSH in both SZ and BP patients compared with CON. We evaluated possible influences of clinical characteristics on the level of GSH in SZ and BP. A decrease in GSH level correlated with Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) total and positive scores for SZ and correlated with the PANSS general for BP. Taken together, we provide evidence that SZ and BP display a common molecular signature in the reduction of peripheral GSH in the psychosis dimension.

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