Adipose tissue dysregulation at the onset of psychosis: Adipokines and social determinants of health

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2021 Jan;123:104915. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2020.104915. Epub 2020 Oct 15.


Recent evidence suggests that patients with psychotic disorders have metabolic disturbances (e.g., insulin resistance, dyslipidemia) at the onset of the disease and before antipsychotic exposure. Such disturbances are strongly associated with adipose tissue dysregulation. Measuring adipokines, the molecular mediators of adipose function, could provide a picture of the state of metabolic regulation at the onset of psychosis. The present study explores adipokine changes in a population of first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients with minimal prior exposure to antipsychotics. The effects of social determinants of health (childhood trauma and minority status) associated with both metabolic and psychotic disorders were studied as potential determinants of this phenomenon. Data was collected through the Signature project, a biobank of clinical, socio-demographic, and biological markers. Adipokines (leptin, adiponectin, resistin and chemerin) were measured in serum of FEP patients with minimal exposure to antipsychotics (N = 48) and controls (N = 39). Data were analyzed with univariate (t-tests) and multivariate (linear regression) statistical methods. Patients, compared to controls, had significantly higher levels of adiponectin and resistin, and significantly lower levels of leptin and chemerin. These results persisted after controlling for sex, waist-to-height ratio, childhood trauma, and visible minority status. Adiponectin and chemerin retained their effects after further controlling for tobacco and depression. Resistin increased with childhood trauma scores; chemerin was higher in visible minority patients. Adipose tissue dysfunction is present in FEP patients, before exposure to antipsychotics. Social determinants of health contribute to adipose (and metabolic) dysregulation in FEP, but may not be the main determinants of this relationship.

Keywords: Childhood trauma; Developmental origins of health and disease; First-episode psychosis; Minority groups; Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue* / metabolism
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Psychotic Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Psychotic Disorders* / metabolism
  • Social Determinants of Health


  • Adipokines
  • Antipsychotic Agents

Grant support