Internalising symptoms mediate the longitudinal association between childhood inflammation and psychotic-like experiences in adulthood

Schizophr Res. 2020 Jan:215:424-429. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2019.07.035. Epub 2019 Aug 3.


Psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) are part of a continuum of psychosis. Previous longitudinal studies highlighted a relationship between peripheral inflammation during childhood and onset of PLEs in adulthood. In this study, we tested if this association is mediated by internalising and externalising symptoms experienced during childhood and adolescence. To test this hypothesis, we used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). We investigated a subsample of 4525 individuals from this cohort with data on interleukin 6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP) in childhood (age 9 years). We measured PLEs at age 18 years, and we used latent growth curve modelling to estimate longitudinal trajectories of internalising and externalising symptoms from ages 9 to 16 years. The individual predicted values of the intercept (set at baseline, 9 years) and the slope (rate of annual change) were then used in the mediation analysis. There was evidence for full mediation by the intercept of internalising symptoms. Our findings suggest that inflammation during childhood may be relevant for the future onset of PLEs via its association with a high level of internalising symptoms. These findings, although obtained from a non-clinical population, provide an additional step in advancing knowledge on the relationship between inflammation and symptoms of the psychosis continuum.

Keywords: ALSPAC; Externalising; Inflammation; Internalising; Psychotic-like experiences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behavioral Symptoms / epidemiology
  • Behavioral Symptoms / physiopathology*
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Inflammation / epidemiology
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Psychotic Disorders / physiopathology*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • IL6 protein, human
  • Interleukin-6
  • C-Reactive Protein