Serum cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate levels in schizophrenic patients and their first-degree relatives
MetadataShow full item record
Aims: Alterations in cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) levels are thought to play a role in the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of serum cortisol and DHEA-S in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Methods: Sixty schizophrenic patients, 70 healthy first-degree relatives, and 60 healthy volunteers were included. Sociodemographic characteristics, data regarding disease duration and severity, as well as ongoing and previous drug use were recorded. Serum cortisol and DHEA-S levels were measured. Results: Serum cortisol and DHEA-S levels were significantly higher in the schizophrenia group compared with the first-degree relatives and controls (P < 0.05). Serum cortisol levels in the first-degree relatives were significantly higher than in the healthy controls (P < 0.05). There was no significant difference between the first-degree relatives and healthy-controls in terms of DHEA-S levels and between the three groups in terms of serum cortisol/DHEA-S ratios. Conclusions: Elevated serum cortisol levels in schizophrenic patients might be associated with the role of cortisol in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Also, the elevation of serum cortisol levels in first-degree relatives compared to controls suggests that similar pathophysiological processes might have a role in individuals without any disease symptoms, but with a genetic predisposition for schizophrenia. Elevated serum DHEA-S levels might be the result of a compensatory response to elevated cortisol levels. Serum cortisol and DHEA-S levels may be used as a biological marker for the diagnosis of schizophrenia; however, further studies with larger sample sizes are warranted to support this finding.