Potential Transdiagnostic Lipid Mediators of Inflammatory Activity in Individuals With Serious Mental Illness

Front Psychiatry. 2021 Nov 26;12:778325. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.778325. eCollection 2021.


Mental disorders are heterogeneous and psychiatric comorbidities are common. Previous studies have suggested a link between inflammation and mental disorders. This link can manifest as increased levels of proinflammatory mediators in circulation and as signs of neuroinflammation. Furthermore, there is strong evidence that individuals suffering from psychiatric disorders have increased risk of developing metabolic comorbidities. Our group has previously shown that, in a cohort of low-functioning individuals with serious mental disorders, there is increased expression of genes associated with the NLRP3 inflammasome, a known sensor of metabolic perturbations, as well as increased levels of IL-1-family cytokines. In the current study, we set out to explore the interplay between disease-specific changes in lipid metabolism and known markers of inflammation. To this end, we performed mass spectrometry-based lipidomic analysis of plasma samples from low-functioning individuals with serious mental disorders (n = 39) and matched healthy controls (n = 39). By identifying non-spurious immune-lipid associations, we derived a partial correlation network of inflammatory markers and molecular lipids. We identified levels of lipids as being altered between individuals with serious mental disorders and controls, showing associations between lipids and inflammatory mediators, e.g., osteopontin and IL-1 receptor antagonist. These results indicate that, in low-functioning individuals with serious mental disorders, changes in specific lipids associate with immune mediators that are known to affect neuroinflammatory diseases.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder (ASD); inflammation; lipidomics; mental disorder (disease); obsessive-compulsive disorder; schizophrenia.