Ndel1 oligopeptidase activity as a potential biomarker of early stages of schizophrenia
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Our previous studies showed reduced Ndel1 enzyme activity in patients with chronic schizophrenia (SCZ), and only a subtle NDEL1 mRNA increases in antipsychotic-naïve first-episode psychosis (FEP) individuals compared to matched healthy controls (HC). Aiming to refine the evaluation of Ndel1 enzyme activity in early stages of psychosis, we compared 3 groups composed by (1) subjects at ultra-high-risk (UHR) for psychosis, (2) a cohort comprising antipsychotic-naïve FEP individuals (assessed in three moments, at baseline (FEP-0), and after 2 months (FEP-2 M) and one year (FEP-1Y) of treatment with risperidone), and (3) a HC group. There was no significant difference in Ndel1 enzyme activity between UHR and HC, but this activity was significantly lower in FEP compared to HC. Conversely, Ndel1 activity in HC groups was higher than in FEP even before (FEP-0) or after the treatment with risperidone (FEP-2 M and FEP-1Y), and with progressive decrease of Ndel1 activity and significant improvement of symptoms observed after this treatment. In addition, a positive correlation was observed for Ndel1 activity with clinical symptoms as assessed by PANSS, while a negative correlation was seen for GAF scores. Our results suggest that reductions in Ndel1 activity in FEP may be possibly related to responses to the illness, rather than to the pharmacological effects of antipsychotics, which might be acting essentially in the symptoms suppression. This hypothesis might be further evaluated in prospective long-term follow-up studies with a larger sample cohort.
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