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Berger, Maximus; Juster, Robert-Paul; Westphal, Sabine; Amminger, G. Paul; Bogerts, Bernhard; Schiltz, Kolja; Bahn, Sabine; Steiner, Johann; Sarnyai, Zoltan (2018): Allostatic load is associated with psychotic symptoms and decreases with antipsychotic treatment in patients with schizophrenia and first-episode psychosis. In: Psychoneuroendocrinology, Vol. 90: pp. 35-42
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Current pathophysiological models of schizophrenia suggest that stress contributes to the etiology and trajectory of the disorder. We investigated if allostatic load (AL), an integrative index of neuroendocrine, immune and metabolic dysregulation in response to chronic stress, is elevated in patients with schizophrenia (SCZ) and first episode psychosis (FEP) and related to psychotic symptoms and social and occupational functioning. Additionally, we assessed the temporal dynamics of AL in response to treatment with second-generation anti psychotics. AL, psychotic symptoms and psychosocial functioning were assessed in a longitudinal design in patients with SCZ (n = 28), FEP (n = 28), and healthy controls (n = 53) at baseline and 6 and 12 weeks after commencement of antipsychotic therapy. AL at baseline was higher in patients with SCZ and FEP relative to controls, but not different between patients with SCZ and FEP. Adjusting for age and smoking, we found that positive symptoms were positively correlated with AL and psychosocial functioning was negatively correlated with AL at trend level. Linear mixed model analysis demonstrated that AL decreased after treatment was commenced in patients with SCZ and FEP between the baseline assessment and the 6 and 12-week follow-up. AL was not predictive of treatment response or symptomatic remission. Our data provide evidence for cumulative physiological dysregulation in patients with SCZ and FEP that is linked to the experience of current positive psychotic symptoms. AL could be a useful tool to monitor biological signatures related to chronic stress and unhealthy behaviors in schizophrenia.