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Decreased serum VEGF and NRG1β1 levels in male patients with chronic schizophrenia: VEGF correlation with clinical symptoms and cognitive deficits.

BACKGROUND: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and neuregulin1 (NRG1) are multifunctional trophic factors reported to be dysregulated in schizophrenia. However, the relationships between serum concentrations and schizophrenia symptoms have differed markedly across studies, possibly because schizophrenia is a highly heterogenous disorder. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations of serum VEGF and NRG1 with clinical symptoms and cognitive deficits specifically in male patients with chronic schizophrenia.

METHODS: The study included 79 male patients with chronic schizophrenia and 79 matched healthy individuals. Serum VEGF, NRG1β1, S100B, S100A8, and neuropilin1 were measured using the Luminex liquid suspension chip detection method, psychopathological symptom severity using the Positive and Negative Symptom Scale (PANSS), and cognitive dysfunction using the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS).

RESULTS: Serum VEGF and NRG1β1 concentrations were significantly lower in male chronic schizophrenic patients than healthy controls (P < 0.05), while serum S100B, S100A8, and neuropilin1 concentrations did not differ between groups (P > 0.05). Serum VEGF concentration was negatively correlated with PANSS negative subscore (beta = -0.220, t = -2.07, P = 0.042), general psychopathology subscore (beta = -0.269, t = -2.55, P = 0.013), and total score (beta = -0.234, t = -2.12, P = 0.038), and positively correlated with RBANS language score (beta = 0.218, t = 2.03, P = 0.045). Alternatively, serum NRG1β1 concentration was not correlated with clinical symptoms or cognitive deficits (all P > 0.05).

CONCLUSION: Dysregulation of VEGF and NRG1β1 signaling may contribute to the pathogenesis of chronic schizophrenia in males. Moreover, abnormal VEGF signaling may contribute directly or through intermediary processes to neuropsychiatric and cognitive symptom expression.

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