Biomarkers of bipolar disorder: specific or shared with schizophrenia?

Front Biosci (Elite Ed). 2013 Jun 1;5(3):845-63. doi: 10.2741/e665.


Kraepelin's observations of the differences in the course and outcome of dementia praecox and manic depression fundamentally influenced thinking about bipolar disorder (BP) and schizophrenia (SZ) for over a century. In modern times, there is increasing awareness that a greater understanding of the similarities between these two highly prevalent and disabling conditions can teach us as many lessons about the pathophysiology of severe mental disorders as does the pursuit of differentiating factors. We review publications on developmental, genetic, epidemiological, and outcome research that challenges the Kraepelian dichotomy. We highlight the increasing evidence of the overlap in genetic susceptibility. Neuro-developmental studies provide evidence of shared early pathological processes, whilst neurophysiological investigations also suggest that different genes may have a role in the development of both phenotypes. There is also evidence of overlapping neurocognitive phenotypes. It has become increasingly clear that a simple binary classification of these disorders represents an oversimplification. It may be more apposite to think in terms of genetic influences on six continuous symptom dimensions: neurobiological, cognitive, positive, negative, depressive and manic symptoms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Bipolar Disorder / blood*
  • Bipolar Disorder / complications
  • Humans
  • Schizophrenia / blood*
  • Schizophrenia / complications


  • Biomarkers