Subunit and whole molecule specificity of the anti-bovine casein immune response in recent onset psychosis and schizophrenia

Schizophr Res. 2010 May;118(1-3):240-7. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2009.12.030. Epub 2010 Jan 13.


Previous studies show increased antibody levels to bovine casein in some individuals with schizophrenia. The immunogenicity of specific domains of bovine casein varies among people with milk sensitivities and thus could vary among different neuropsychiatric disorders. Using ELISAs and immunoblotting, we characterized IgG class antibody specificity to whole bovine casein and to the alpha(s), beta, and kappa subunits in individuals with recent onset psychosis (n=95), long-term schizophrenia (n=103), and non-psychiatric controls (n=65). In both patient groups, we found elevated IgG to casein proteins, particularly to whole casein and the alpha(s) subunit (p<or=0.0001). Odds ratios of casein seroprevalence for recent onset psychosis (age-, gender-, race-, smoking-adjusted) were significant for whole casein (8.13, p<or=0.0001), and the alpha(s) (7.89, p<or=0.0001), beta (5.23, p<or=0.001) and kappa (5.70, p<or=0.0001) subunits. Odds ratios for long-term schizophrenia were significant for whole casein (7.85, p<or=0.0001), and the alpha(s) (4.78, p<or=0.003) and kappa (4.92, p<or=0.004) subunits. Within the recent onset group, odds ratios were particularly significant for a subgroup of people with psychotic disorders that included major depressive disorders (8.22-16.48, p<or=0.0001). In a different recent onset subgroup (schizophrenia-spectrum disorders), PANSS scores for negative symptoms were correlated with casein antibody levels for the alpha(s) and kappa subunits (p<or=0.001-0.01). Immunoblotting patterns also exhibited group specificity, with kappa predominant in recent onset and alpha(s) in schizophrenia (Fisher's Exact Test, p<or=0.001). The elevated IgG and unique patterns of antibody specificity to bovine casein among diagnostic groups provide a rationale for clinical trials to evaluate efficacies of dietary modifications in individuals with neuropsychiatric diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Antibody Specificity / immunology
  • Caseins / immunology*
  • Cattle / blood
  • Cattle / immunology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Protein Subunits / blood
  • Protein Subunits / immunology
  • Psychotic Disorders / blood
  • Psychotic Disorders / immunology*
  • Schizophrenia / blood*
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia / immunology
  • Young Adult


  • Caseins
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Protein Subunits