Unbiased Metabolite Profiling of Schizophrenia Fibroblasts under Stressful Perturbations Reveals Dysregulation of Plasmalogens and Phosphatidylcholines

J Proteome Res. 2017 Feb 3;16(2):481-493. doi: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.6b00628. Epub 2016 Nov 28.


We undertook an unbiased metabolite profiling of fibroblasts from schizophrenia patients and healthy controls to identify metabolites and pathways that are dysregulated in disease, seeking to gain new insights into the disease biology of schizophrenia and to discover potential disease-related biomarkers. We measured polar and nonpolar metabolites in the fibroblasts under normal conditions and under two stressful physiological perturbations: growth in low-glucose media and exposure to the steroid hormone dexamethasone. We found that metabolites that were significantly different between schizophrenia and control subjects showed separation of the two groups by partial least-squares discriminant analysis methods. This separation between schizophrenia and healthy controls was more robust with metabolites identified under the perturbation conditions. The most significant individual metabolite differences were also found in the perturbation experiments. Metabolites that were significantly different between schizophrenia and healthy controls included a number of plasmalogens and phosphatidylcholines. We present these results in the context of previous reports of metabolic profiling of brain tissue and plasma in schizophrenia. These results show the applicability of metabolite profiling under stressful perturbations to reveal cellular pathways that may be involved in disease biology.

Keywords: metabolic profiling; phosphatidylcholine; plasmalogen; schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Culture Media / pharmacology
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism*
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology
  • Glucose / deficiency
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Male
  • Metabolome*
  • Middle Aged
  • Phosphatidylcholines / metabolism*
  • Plasmalogens / metabolism*
  • Primary Cell Culture
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism*
  • Schizophrenia / pathology
  • Stress, Physiological*


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Culture Media
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Plasmalogens
  • Dexamethasone
  • Glucose