Biomarker discovery in psychiatric disorders

Electrophoresis. 2008 Jul;29(13):2884-90. doi: 10.1002/elps.200700710.


Schizophrenia is a multifaceted neuropsychiatric disorder. Its onset is the result of complex interactions between genetic, developmental and environmental factors. It almost certainly presents a heterogeneous group of aetiologies which may not be reflected in the symptomatic/clinical presentation of patients. Therefore, a better molecular understanding of the disease onset and progression is urgently needed. The high complexity of the disorder and the heterogeneity of patient populations account for the slow progress of biomarker discovery approaches. Multi-omics profiling approaches can be employed to investigate large numbers of patient and control samples in a single experiment. These large scale experiments are required to identify disease intrinsic molecular signatures as well as patient subgroups with potentially distinct biochemical pathways underpinning their symptoms. In this overview, we describe some of the most important challenges for biomarker discovery for psychiatric disorders and emphasize how these problems contribute to the requirement of large sample numbers. Results of MS-based protein profiling studies in schizophrenia research are reviewed and technical advantages and difficulties of the methodologies described. We outline recent technological advances that generated impressive results in other areas of research and point to their applicability for biomarker discovery in psychiatric disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Electrophoresis
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Proteomics* / methods
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Biomarkers