Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Dysregulation of chemo-cytokine production in schizophrenic patients versus healthy controls

Marcella Reale1*, Antonia Patruno2, Maria A De Lutiis3, Mirko Pesce3, Mario Felaco3, Massimo Di Giannantonio4, Marta Di Nicola4 and Alfredo Grilli35

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Oncology and Experimental Medicine, University "G. D'Annunzio", Via dei Vestini, 31, Chieti, 66123, Italy

2 Department of Drug Sciences, University "G. D'Annunzio", Via dei Vestini, 31, Chieti, 66123, Italy

3 Department of Human Dynamics, University "G. D'Annunzio", Via dei Vestini, 31, Chieti, 66123, Italy

4 Department of Biomedical Sciences, University "G. D'Annunzio", Via dei Vestini, 31, Chieti, 66123, Italy

5 University "Leonardo Da Vinci" Torrevecchia Teatina, Chieti, 66123, Italy

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BMC Neuroscience 2011, 12:13  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-12-13

Published: 25 January 2011



The exact cause of schizophrenia is not known, although several aetiological theories have been proposed for the disease, including developmental or neurodegenerative processes, neurotransmitter abnormalities, viral infection and immune dysfunction or autoimmune mechanisms. Growing evidence suggests that specific cytokines and chemokines play a role in signalling the brain to produce neurochemical, neuroendocrine, neuroimmune and behavioural changes. A relationship between inflammation and schizophrenia was supported by abnormal cytokines production, abnormal concentrations of cytokines and cytokine receptors in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid in schizophrenia. Since the neuropathology of schizophrenia has recently been reported to be closely associated with microglial activation we aimed to determined whether spontaneous or LPS-induced peripheral blood mononuclear cell chemokines and cytokines production is dysregulated in schizophrenic patients compared to healthy subjects. We enrolled 51 untreated first-episode schizophrenics (SC) and 40 healthy subjects (HC) and the levels of MCP-1, MIP-1α, IL-8, IL-18, IFN-γ and RANTES were determined by Elisa method in cell-free supernatants of PBMC cultures.


In the simultaneous quantification we found significantly higher levels of constitutively and LPS-induced MCP-1, MIP-1α, IL-8 and IL-18, and lower RANTES and IFNγ levels released by PBMC of SC patients compared with HC. In ten SC patients receiving therapy with risperidone, olanzapine or clozapine basal and LPS-induced production of RANTES and IL-18 was increased, while both basal and LPS-induced MCP-1 production was decreased. No statistically significant differences were detected in serum levels after therapy.


The observation that in schizophrenic patients the PBMC production of selected chemo-cytokines is dysregulated reinforces the hypothesis that the peripheral cyto-chemokine network is involved in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. These preliminary, but promising data are supportive of the application of wider profiling approaches to the identification of biomarker as diagnostic tools for the analysis of psychiatric diseases.