Neuroleptic treatment increases soluble IL-2 receptors and decreases soluble IL-6 receptors in schizophrenia

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Abstract

The cytokines interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) increase during immune activation, they are released from activated astrocytes and microglial cells in the central nervous system (CNS), and they are able to enhance the catecholaminergic neurotransmission. This study focused on the soluble receptors of IL-2 and IL-6 (sIL-2R, sIL-6R) as a part of the regulation system of IL-2 and IL-6. We studied serum levels of sIL-2R in 30 schizophrenic patients not under neuroleptic medication during an acute exacerbation of the disease and reexamined these patients under neuroleptic treatment after clinical improvement. The SIL-6R levels of 39 schizophrenic patients were estimated under the same conditions. The results were compared with the levels of sIL-2R and sIL-6R in 42 healthy controls. No difference was found between the schizophrenic patients before neuroleptic treatment and the healthy controls. During neuroleptic treatment, however, there was a significant increase of sIL-2R levels and a significant decrease of the sIL-6R levels between the pre- and post-conditions. In comparison with healthy controls, the treatment group also showed increased sIL-2R levels and decreased sIL-6R levels. These results suggest that treatment with neuroleptics is associated with increased sIL-2R and decreased sIL-6R. Since sIL-2R bind and inactivate IL-2, whereas sIL-6R form an active complex with IL-6, the increase of sIL-2R and the decrease of sIL-6R together may reflect a functional down regulation of these activating cytokines. This suggests that neuroleptic therapy has a differentiated immunomodulatory effect.