Expression analyses of the mitochondrial complex I 75-kDa subunit in early onset schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder: increased levels as a potential biomarker for early onset schizophrenia

Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2010 May;19(5):441-8. doi: 10.1007/s00787-009-0074-z. Epub 2009 Nov 6.


Searching for a peripheral biological marker for schizophrenia, we previously reported on elevated mitochondrial complex I 75-kDa subunit mRNA-blood concentrations in early onset schizophrenia (EOS). The aim of this study was to further evaluate the utility of this gene as a potential marker for schizophrenia. Both-schizophrenia and autism-are suggested to be neuronal maldevelopmental disorders with reports of mitochondrial dysfunction and increased oxidative stress. Therefore we have investigated the expression levels of mitochondrial complex I 75-kDa subunit mRNA in whole blood of children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and a group of adolescent acute first-episode EOS patients in comparison to matched controls. We have found that compared to the respective controls only the group of EOS patients-and not the ASD group-showed a significantly altered expression of the complex I 75-kDa subunit mRNA. Although further studies are necessary to test for the specificity of this marker, our findings point to the potential use of the mitochondrial complex I as a biomarker for schizophrenia.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / blood*
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / genetics
  • Electron Transport Complex I / biosynthesis
  • Electron Transport Complex I / blood*
  • Electron Transport Complex I / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Schizophrenia / blood*
  • Schizophrenia / genetics


  • Biomarkers
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Electron Transport Complex I