Depressive symptoms in schizophrenia and dopamine and serotonin gene polymorphisms

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Abstract

Although depressive symptoms seem to be frequent in schizophrenia they have received significantly less attention than other symptom domains. As impaired serotonergic and dopaminergic neurotransmission is implicated in the pathogenesis of depression and schizophrenia this study sought to investigate the putative association between several functional gene polymorphisms (SERT 5-HTTLPR, MAO-A VNTR, COMT Val158Met and DAT VNTR) and schizophrenia. Other objectives of this study were to closely examine schizophrenia symptom domains by performing factor analysis of the two most used instruments in this setting (Positive and negative syndrome scale - PANSS and Calgary depression rating scale - CDSS) and to examine the influence of investigated gene polymorphisms on the schizophrenia symptom domains, focusing on depressive scores. A total of 591 participants were included in the study (300 schizophrenic patients and 291 healthy volunteers). 192 (64%) of schizophrenic patients had significant depressive symptoms. Genotype distribution revealed no significant differences regarding all investigated polymorphisms except the separate gender analysis for MAO-A gene polymorphism which revealed significantly more allele 3 carriers in schizophrenic males. Factor analysis of the PANSS scale revealed the existence of five separate factors (symptom domains), while the CDSS scale revealed two distinct factors. Several investigated gene polymorphisms (mostly SERT and MAO-A, but also COMT) significantly influenced two factors from the PANSS (aggressive/impulsive and negative symptoms) and one from the CDSS scale (suicidality), respectively. Depressive symptoms in schizophrenic patients may be influenced by functional gene polymorphisms, especially those implicated in serotonergic neurotransmission.

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