Mitochondrial activity and oxidative stress markers in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of patients with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and healthy subjects Academic Article uri icon

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  • Evidence suggests that mitochondrial dysfunction is involved in the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia (SZ) and bipolar disorder (BD). However, the exact mechanisms underlying this dysfunction are not well understood. Impaired activity of electron transport chain (ETC) complexes has been described in these disorders and may reflect changes in mitochondrial metabolism and oxidative stress markers. The objective of this study was to compare ETC complex activity and protein and lipid oxidation markers in 12 euthymic patients with BD type I, in 18 patients with stable chronic SZ, and in 30 matched healthy volunteers. Activity of complexes I, II, and III was determined by enzyme kinetics of mitochondria isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Protein oxidation was evaluated using the protein carbonyl content (PCC) method, and lipid peroxidation, the thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) assay kit. A significant decrease in complex I activity was observed (p = 0.02), as well as an increase in plasma levels of TBARS (p = 0.00617) in patients with SZ when compared to matched controls. Conversely, no significant differences were found in complex I activity (p = 0.17) or in plasma TBARS levels (p = 0.26) in patients with BD vs. matched controls. Our results suggest that mitochondrial complex I dysfunction and oxidative stress play important roles in the pathophysiology of SZ and may be used in potential novel adjunctive therapy for SZ, focusing primarily on cognitive impairment and disorder progression.


  • Gubert, Carolina
  • Stertz, Laura
  • Pfaffenseller, Bianca
  • Panizzutti, Bruna Schilling
  • Rezin, Gislaine Tezza
  • Massuda, Raffael
  • Streck, Emilio Luiz
  • Gama, Clarissa Severino
  • Kapczinski, Flavio
  • Kunz, Maurício

publication date

  • October 2013