Carnitine metabolites and cognitive improvement in patients with schizophrenia treated with olanzapine: a prospective longitudinal study
Objective: Cognitive impairment is one of the core symptoms of schizophrenia, which is stable and lifelong. L-carnitine has been shown to improve cognitive function and decrease the rate of cognitive deterioration in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. However, it remains unclear regarding the role of L-carnitine and its metabolites in cognitive functions in schizophrenia after treatment with olanzapine. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between changes in plasma levels of L-carnitine metabolites and cognitive improvement after olanzapine treatment. Methods: This was a prospective longitudinal study. In this study, we recruited 25 female patients with first episode schizophrenia (FES) who were drug naïve at baseline and received 4 weeks of olanzapine monotherapy. Cognitive function was assessed at baseline and 4-week follow-up using the RBANS. Plasma L-carnitine metabolite levels were determined by a metabolomics technology based on untargeted ultra-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS). Results: We found that the immediate memory index, delayed memory index and RBANS composite score were significantly increased at the 4-week follow-up after treatment. A total of 7 differential L-carnitine metabolites were identified in FES patients after olanzapine monotherapy. In addition, we found that changes in butyrylcarnitine were positively correlated with improvements in language index and RBANS composite score. Further regression analyses confirmed the association between reduced butyrylcarnitine levels and cognitive improvement after olanzapine monotherapy in FES patients. Conclusion: Our study shows that cognitive improvement after olanzapine treatment was associated with changes in L-carnitine metabolite levels in patients with FES, suggesting a key role of L-carnitine in cognition in schizophrenia.