Cysteine-rich whey protein isolate (Immunocal®) ameliorates deficits in the GFAP.HMOX1 mouse model of schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a neuropsychiatric disorder that features neural oxidative stress and glutathione (GSH) deficits. Oxidative stress is augmented in brain tissue of GFAP.HMOX1 transgenic mice which exhibit schizophrenia-relevant characteristics. The whey protein isolate, Immunocal® serves as a GSH precursor upon oral administration. In this study, we treated GFAP.HMOX1 transgenic mice daily with either Immunocal (33 mg/ml drinking water) or equivalent concentrations of casein (control) between the ages of 5 and 6.5 months. Immunocal attenuated many of the behavioral, neurochemical and redox abnormalities observed in GFAP.HMOX1 mice. In addition to restoring GSH homeostasis in the CNS of the transgenic mice, the whey protein isolate augmented GSH reserves in the brains of wild-type animals. These results demonstrate that consumption of whey protein isolate augments GSH stores and antioxidant defenses in the healthy and diseased mammalian brain. Whey protein isolate supplementation (Immunocal) may constitute a safe and effective modality for the management of schizophrenia, an unmet clinical imperative.