Systemic Cell Adhesion Molecules in Severe Mental Illness: Potential Role of Intercellular CAM-1 in Linking Peripheral and Neuroinflammation

Biol Psychiatry. 2023 Jan 15;93(2):187-196. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2022.06.029. Epub 2022 Jul 2.


Background: Cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) orchestrate leukocyte trafficking and could link peripheral and neuroinflammation in patients with severe mental illness (SMI), by promoting inflammatory and immune-mediated responses and mediating signals across blood-brain barrier. We hypothesized that CAMs would be dysregulated in SMI and evaluated plasma levels of different vascular and neural CAMs. Dysregulated CAMs in plasma were further evaluated in vivo in leukocytes and brain tissue and in vitro in induced pluripotent stem cells.

Methods: We compared plasma soluble levels of different vascular (VCAM-1, ICAM-1, P-SEL) and neural (JAM-A, NCAD) CAMs in circulating leukocytes in a large SMI sample of schizophrenia (SCZ) spectrum disorder (n = 895) and affective disorder (n = 737) and healthy control participants (n = 1070) controlling for age, sex, body mass index, C-reactive protein, and freezer storage time. We also evaluated messenger RNA expression of ICAM1 and related genes encoding ICAM-1 receptors in leukocytes using microarray (n = 842) and in available RNA sequencing data from the CommonMind Consortium (CMC) in postmortem samples from the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (n = 474). The regulation of soluble ICAM-1 in induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons and astrocytes was assessed in patients with SCZ and healthy control participants (n = 8 of each).

Results: Our major findings were 1) increased soluble ICAM-1 in patients with SMI compared with healthy control participants; 2) increased ITGB2 messenger RNA, encoding the beta chain of the ICAM-1 receptor, in circulating leukocytes from patients with SMI and increased prefrontal cortex messenger RNA expression of ICAM1 in SCZ; and 3) enhanced soluble ICAM-1 release in induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons from patients with SCZ.

Conclusions: Our results support a systemic and cerebral dysregulation of soluble ICAM-1 expression in SMI and especially in patients with SCZ.

Keywords: Affective disorder; Blood-brain barrier; Cell adhesion molecule; Immune activation; Inflammation; Schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1*
  • Neuroinflammatory Diseases
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Schizophrenia*
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1


  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • RNA, Messenger