Study Finds Immune Molecule Levels Linked to Schizophrenia Onset

From Psychiatric News Alert: The levels of certain immune-related molecules in the cerebrospinal fluid appear to differ in individuals with schizophrenia and at risk for schizophrenia compared with healthy control subjects, scientists report in Schizophrenia Bulletin. The study was headed by Lindsay Hayes, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center, and Akira Sawa, M.D., Ph.D., director of the center. 

Another potentially important finding the researchers reported was that the levels of these molecules in schizophrenia-risk subjects were “exacerbated” compared with the levels in subjects who already had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Thus the levels of these molecules might serve as predictive biomarkers for the onset of schizophrenia, the researchers believe. “However, this data is very preliminary and needs to be validated with additional large cohorts and in longitudinal studies to confirm their predictive impact,” Hayes toldPsychiatric News. 

Alan Brown, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University and an expert on infectious agents that have been linked to schizophrenia, said in an interview that since “the abnormalities appeared to be greater in those with at-risk mental states than in those with schizophrenia suggests that a longitudinal study with cerebrospinal fluid immunologic biomarkers in the same individuals tested at different time points could be very promising.” 

More information about the immune system’s possible links to schizophrenia can be found in the Psychiatric News article, “Immune System Protein Could Give Clue to Late-Onset Schizophrenia.” To read about the value of early schizophrenia detection and treatment, see “Early Detection of Schizophrenia: The Time Is Now,” a column by then-APA President Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D. 

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