The neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) is a glycoprotein implicated in cell-cell adhesion, neurite outgrowth and synaptic plasticity. Polysialic acid (polySia) is mainly attached to NCAM (polySia-NCAM) and has an essential role in regulating NCAMdependent developmental processes that require plasticity, that is, cell migration, axon guidance and synapse formation. Postmortem and genetic evidence suggests that dysregulation of polySia-NCAM is involved in schizophrenia (SZ). We enrolled 45 patients diagnosed with SZ and 45 healthy individuals who were submitted to polySia-NCAM peripheral quantification, cognitive and psychopathological assessment and structural neuroimaging (brain volumes and diffusion tensor imaging). PolySia-NCAM serum levels were increased in SZ patients, independently of antipsychotic treatment, and were associated with negative symptoms, blunted affect and declarative memory impairment. The increased polySia-NCAM levels were associated with decreased volume in the left prefrontal cortex, namely Brodmann area 46, in patients and increased volume in the same brain area of healthy individuals. As this brain region is involved in the pathophysiology of SZ and its associated phenomenology, the data indicate that polySia-NCAM deserves further scrutiny because of its possible role in early neurodevelopmental mechanisms of the disorder.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Biological Psychiatry
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience