Increasing evidence suggests that inflammation contributes to the etiology and progression of schizophrenia. Molecules that initiate inflammation, such as virus- and toxin-induced cytokines, are implicated in neuronal degeneration and schizophrenia-like behavior. Using therapeutic agents with anti-inflammatory or neurotrophic effects may be beneficial for treating schizophrenia. One hundred healthy controls and 95 Han Chinese patients with schizophrenia were tested in this double-blind study. Their PANSS scores, plasma interleukin (IL)-1β, tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-a) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels were measured before and after pharmacological treatment. Pretreatment, plasma levels of IL-1β and TNF-α were significantly higher in patients with schizophrenia than in controls, but plasma BDNF levels were significantly lower. Patients were treated with the atypical antipsychotic risperidone (Risp) only or with Risp+ dextromethorphan (DM). PANSS scores and plasma IL-1β levels significantly decreased, but plasma TNF-α and BDNF levels significantly increased after 11 weeks of Risp treatment. Patients in the Risp+ DM group showed a greater and earlier reduction of symptoms than did those in the Risp-only group. Moreover, Risp+ DM treatment attenuated Risp-induced plasma increases in TNF-α. Patients with schizophrenia had a high level of peripheral inflammation and a low level of peripheral BDNF. Long-term Risp treatment attenuated inflammation and potentiated the neurotrophic function but also produced a certain degree of toxicity. Risp+ DM was more beneficial and less toxic than Risp-only treatment.
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