The pathogenesis and etiology of schizophrenia (SCZ) remains unclear. Accumulating studies showed that complex interrelationships between brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and an imbalanced redox system has a crucial role in the psychopathology of SCZ. However, the influence of the interrelationships of BDNF and superoxide dismutase (SOD) on cognitive impairment and clinical symptomatology in drug-naive first-episode (DNFE) SCZ patients has not been studied thoroughly. Serum BDNF levels, plasma total SOD, manganese-SOD (Mn-SOD), copper/zinc-containing SOD (CuZn-SOD) activities, and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels were measured in 327 DNFE patients with SCZ and 391 healthy controls. Cognitive functions were measured using the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological status (RBANS) and clinical symptoms were evaluated by the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). Compared with the controls, the DNFE patients had increased activities of total SOD and CuZn-SOD, and reduced levels of BDNF and MDA. BDNF levels were positively correlated with CuZn-SOD activity in patients. In addition, we found that elevated Mn-SOD and CuZn-SOD activities were related to PANSS depression factor. Moreover, an interactive effect of BDNF levels and Mn-SOD activity was associated with attentional index score in the patients. Therefore, our findings suggested that interrelationships between BDNF and antioxidant mechanisms might underlie the pathological mechanisms of cognitive impairments and symptomatology in the DNFE patients with SCZ.

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