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Mitogen-Stimulated Interleukin-2 Production in Never-Medicated, First-Episode Schizophrenic Patients:  The Influence of Age at Onset and Negative Symptoms

Rohan Ganguli, MD; Jaspreet S. Brar, MD; K. N. R. Chengappa, MD; Marcia DeLeo, RN; Zan Wei Yang, PhD; Galina Shurin, PhD; Bruce S. Rabin, MD, PhD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1995;52(8):668-672. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1995.03950200058014.
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Background:  Decreased interleukin-2 (IL-2) production is characteristic of active autoimmune diseases and has previously been reported in patients with schizophrenia. We attempted to replicate this finding in never-medicated schizophrenic patients and examine the possible correlation between IL-2 production and clinical variables.

Methods:  The production of IL-2 was measured in equal numbers (N=33) of DSM-III-R—diagnosed schizophrenic patients and controls who were matched for age, race, and gender. Patients were also assessed for positive, negative, and depressive symptoms.

Results:  The production of IL-2 was significantly lower in patients than in controls. There was a significant positive correlation between IL-2 production and age at onset, and significant negative correlation between IL-2 production and negative symptom scores. In multivariate analyses, the predictive power was stronger for age at onset than for negative symptoms. Positive or depressive symptoms were unrelated to IL-2 production.

Conclusions:  Our finding of low IL-2 production in neuroleptic-naive schizophrenic patients confirms that this finding is not confounded by medications. The correlation of low IL-2 production with younger age at onset suggests that this may be a marker for a subtype of the illness or for severity.

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