Plasma activity of prolyl endopeptidase in relation to psychopathology during immunotherapy with IFN-α in patients with renal cell carcinoma
Abnormal activity in peripheral blood of the cytosolic enzyme prolyl endopeptidase (PEP, EC 188.8.131.52, post prolyl cleaving enzyme, prolyl oligopeptidase) has been found in patients with a variety of psychiatric disorders, most consistently in mood disorders. Mood disturbance is a well-known side effect of immunotherapy with interferon-α (IFN-α). Earlier, we documented a decrease in serum PEP activity in the first 4 weeks of treatment with IFN-α. In 24 patients (16 men, 8 women, median age 60.5 years, range 47-72 years) with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC), psychiatric assessment and blood sampling were performed before and at 4 and 8 weeks and at 6 months after initiation of treatment with IFN-α. No episodes of depression were observed, and the sum score and the scores on the subscales for depression and hostility of the Symptom Check List-90 (SCL-90) did not change during follow-up, whereas the anxiety scores were somewhat lower at 4 and 8 weeks compared with baseline. No change in plasma PEP activity and no relationships between change in psychiatric parameters and change in plasma PEP activity were found. As more subtle relationships between PEP activity and psychiatric status could have easily been obscured, a role for PEP in the pathophysiology of IFN-α-induced mood disturbance can neither be confirmed nor excluded.