Evidence for disturbances in HPA activation and abnormal HPA regulatory mechanisms in schizophrenia is accumulating.
To compare serum levels of cortisol, DHEA-S and their ratio between patients with schizophrenia and healthy controls and among patients before and after treatment with different types of antipsychotics.
Material and methods
In this clinical prospective study, 60 patients with schizophrenia and 40 healthy age and sex matched control subjects were included. All patients experienced an acute exacerbation of the illness (PANSS: P1 and P3 ≥ 4). Clinical evaluation of patients was performed using the Positive and Negative Symptom Scale. A questionnaire for socio-demographic and clinical data collection was used. Serum levels of cortisol, DHEA-S and their ratio were measured at baseline in all participants and after 3 and 6 weeks, respectively, of the antipsychotic treatment with different types of antipsychotics in patients with schizophrenia.
Patients with schizophrenia had significantly higher serum cortisol and DHEA-S levels in comparison to the control group. There was no significant difference in serum levels of cortisol, DHEA-S and their ratio between patients treated with different types of antipsychotics (typical/atypical). Serum levels of the analyzed hormones significantly reduce during the 6-week period of examination in both subgroups treated with different types of antipsychotics. Conclusion: Elevated serum cortisol and DHEA-S in schizophrenic patients might be associated with their role in the pathophysiology of the disorder. There is no significant difference in serum levels of cortisol, DHEA-S and their ratio among the patients treated with different types of antipsychotics.