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Association of non-essential metals with Chinese schizophrenia: A case-control study.

BACKGROUND: The potential link between environmental pollutants, including metals, and schizophrenia development remains debated. This study aimed to explore the association between plasma levels of three non-essential metals-barium (Ba), tungsten (W), and uranium (U)-and schizophrenia risk among Chinese individuals.

METHOD: We recruited a total of 221 patients and 219 healthy controls. Plasma levels of three non-essential metals were measured using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. We employed unconditional logistic regression and Bayesian kernel machine regression (BKMR) to explore the relationship between exposure to multiple metals and the risk of schizophrenia.

RESULTS: Logistic regression analysis revealed that the highest quartile (Q4) of W had an odds ratio (OR) of 1.87 (95% CI: 1.08-3.21) compared to the lowest quartile (Q1), with a significant P-trend of 0.017. For U, the ORs (95% CI) for Q2, Q3, and Q4 were 2.06 (1.19-3.56), 1.99 (1.15-3.44), and 1.74 (1.00-3.00), respectively. BKMR analyses revealed a progressive increase in the risk of schizophrenia with increasing cumulative levels of the three metals at concentrations below 35%, with U playing a major role in this association. U showed a non-linear positive correlation with schizophrenia, particularly at the 75th percentile level. Moreover, potential interactions were observed between W and Ba, as well as between W and U.

CONCLUSION: Higher plasma W and U concentrations were positively associated with the risk of schizophrenia, which was potentially related to the severity of symptoms in schizophrenic patients.

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