Objectives: Alterations in immunological parameters have been reported for schizophrenia although little is known about the effects of inflammatory status on immune-related functional changes at disease onset. Here, we have investigated such T cell-dependent molecular changes in first-onset, antipsychotic-naive schizophrenia patients using a novel ex vivo blood culture system.
Methods: Blood samples from patients (n=17) and controls (n=17) were collected into stimulant-containing or null control TruCulture™ tubes, incubated 24 hours and the concentrations of 107 immune and metabolic molecules measured in the conditioned media using the HumanMAP™ immunoassay system.
Results: Nine molecules showed altered release from schizophrenia blood cells compared to those from controls and this was replicated in an independent cohort. In silico pathway analysis showed that these molecules had roles in endothelial cell function, inflammation, acute phase response and fibrinolysis pathways. Importantly, five of these molecules showed altered release only after stimulation.
Conclusions: This study has identified a reproducible peripheral molecular signature associated with altered immune function in first-onset schizophrenia subjects. This suggests that immune status can affect the biomarker profile which could be important for personalized medicine strategies. Furthermore, whole blood culture analysis may be useful in the identification of diagnostic tools or novel treatment strategies due to ease-of-use and clinical accessibility.
Keywords: Blood Cells; Immune System; Multiplex Immunoassay; Proteomics; Schizophrenia.