To investigate the role of Brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the psychotic symptoms in first-episode patients with schizophrenia and whether BDNF levels were associated with the improvement of psychotic symptoms after risperidone treatment.
89 schizophrenia patients and 90 healthy controls were recruited, the schizophrenia patients were assigned into early response or early non-response groups at 2 weeks based on improvement in the positive and negative symptoms scale (PANSS) total score. All patients were treated with risperidone for 2 weeks, their serum BDNF levels were compared at baseline and after 2 weeks treatment.
We found that patients had lower BDNF levels, compared to controls at baseline. After 2 weeks of treatment of risperidone, BDNF levels were significantly increased and psychotic symptoms were decreased in early response group. Correlation analysis showed that the change of BDNF levels after treatment was correlated with the change of PANSS total score. Further regression analysis showed that the change in BDNF levels was an independent predictor for the improvement in psychotic symptoms.
Our findings reveal that the level of BDNF was lower in first-episode schizophrenic patients, moreover, the changes in serum BDNF levels may have a predictive effect on the early improvement in psychotic symptoms in the first 2 weeks.