Increased serum Dickkopf-1 levels in drug-abusing psychotic patients

Daniele Serata, Giorgio D. Kotzalidis, Barbara Riozzi, Marianna Storto, Isabella Panaccione, Silvia Romano, Chiara Rapinesi, Giulio Maria Porfiri, Barbara Casolla, Antonio Del Casale, Martina Curto, Matteo Caloro, Nicoletta Girardi, Valeria Savoja, Ferdinando Nicoletti, Roberto Tatarelli, Paolo Girardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Dickkopf-1 (DKK1) is an inhibitor of the canonical Wnt pathway, which is known to be impaired in both psychotic and neurodegenerative disorders. Here, we examined serum DKK1 levels as an indicator of ongoing neurodegeneration in psychotic patients, with or without a recent or current history of drug abuse. Methods: We measured serum DKK1 levels by ELISA in 22 inpatients with psychosis and no history of drug abuse, 22 with psychosis and drug abuse, and 16 controls. We rated psychopathology using the following rating scales: the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS); the Clinical Global Impressions (CGI) severity scale; and the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scale. Extrapyramidal motor symptoms were assessed by the Simpson-Angus Neurological Rating Scale (NRS). Results: Inpatients with psychosis and comorbid substance abuse showed significantly higher serum DKK1 levels than inpatients with psychosis and no comorbid substance abuse or controls. Comorbid patients had earlier onset, longer duration of psychosis, and more severe extrapyramidal motor symptoms. However, we did not find any significant correlation between DKK1 levels and rating scale scores. Conclusion: Psychosis led to elevated serum DKK1 levels, and substance abuse led to a further increase. Knowing that there is a correlation between brain and blood levels of DKK1, we speculate that the observed increase in DKK1 levels reflects drug-induced neurotoxicity in our patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-244
Number of pages6
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 30 2012


  • Dickkopf-1
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Substance use disorders
  • Wingless pathway

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Pharmacology


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