Increase in dopaminergic, but not serotoninergic, receptors in T-cells as a marker for schizophrenia severity.

Schizophrenia is characterized by a slow deteriorating mental illness. Although the pathophysiology mechanisms are not fully understood, different studies have suggested a role for the immune system in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. To date, an altered expression or signaling of neurotransmitters receptors is observed in immune cells during psychiatric disorders. In the present study, we investigated the expression of different serotonin and dopamine receptors in T-cells of schizophrenic and control patients. We used flow cytometry to determine the pattern of expression of dopamine (D2 and D4) and serotonine receptors (SR1A, SR1C, SR2A, SR2B), as well as serotonin transporter (ST), in T-cell subsets (CD4 and CD8). Expression of serotonin receptors and ST in T-cells of schizophrenic patients were not different from controls. However, the percentages of CD4+D4+ and CD8+D4+ were increased in schizophrenic patients as compared to controls. In addition, increased percentages of CD8+D2+ cells were also observed in schizophrenic patients, albeit this population revealed lower CD4+D2+ cells in comparison to controls. Interestingly, a relationship between clinical symptoms and immunological parameters was also observed. We showed that the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) and the Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS) were positively related to CD8+D2+ cells, though AIMS was inversely related to CD4+D4+ cells. In conclusion, the alteration in the pattern of cell population and molecules expressed by them might serve as a promising biomarker for diagnosis of schizophrenia.

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