It is believed that dopamine and alterations of energy metabolism in cortical and subcortical structures are involved in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Recently, we and others have shown that dopamine may affect energy metabolism by interacting with mitochondrial complex I activity in rats both in vivo and in vitro. In this study activity of complexes I and IV was assessed in mitochondria isolated from blood platelet of schizophrenic patients and compared to patients with affective disorders and healthy control subjects. Seventy-seven in-patients who met DSM-IV criteria for schizophrenia (in acute exacerbation), bipolar disorder depressed type (BP), or recurrent major depressive disorder (MDD) and 24 control subjects participated in the study. A highly significant increase (240%, p < 0.001) in complex I activity but not in complex IV, was detected in medicated and unmedicated schizophrenic patients compared to controls. No such change was observed in patients with affective disorders. The data demonstrate a specific and selective, alteration in platelet complex I activity in schizophrenic patients, which is not related to medication. If this abnormality in platelet mitochondria reflects brain alterations, it may further support the relevance of alterations in energy metabolism to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Finally in the lack of any clinically relevant biological marker for schizophrenia, complex I activity in platelets might become a useful peripheral marker for this disorder.
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