Retinal layers and symptoms and inflammation in schizophrenia

Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2023 Mar 16. doi: 10.1007/s00406-023-01583-0. Online ahead of print.


Schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects brain structure and function. The retina, as well as the brain, consists of neuronal and glial cells packed in layers. Cortical volume and brain thickness are associated with inflammatory biomarkers, however, no study has been performed associating inflammatory biomarkers and retina in schizophrenia. our study aims to compare the retinal macular thickness and volume and peripapillary thickness in patients with schizophrenia and controls, and associate it to symptoms of schizophrenia, to interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C Reactive Protein (CRP) levels. Optical coherence tomography was performed to assess retinal layer thickness and volume, and CRP and IL-6 levels were measured in patients with schizophrenia and controls. Positive, negative, and general symptoms of schizophrenia were measured with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). A linear regression controlling for confounding factors was performed. 70 subjects were included, 35 patients, and 35 controls matched for sex and age. Patients with schizophrenia presented a significantly lower macular volume (p < 0.05) and thickness (< 0.05) than controls. PANSS positive, general and total scores were associated with retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness (p < 0.05). There was no association between inflammatory markers (CRP and IL-6) levels and the retinal layer. A reduction in macular volume and thickness was found in patients with schizophrenia. The severity of schizophrenia symptoms was associated with RNFL thickness. CRP and IL-6 are not associated with retinal thickness/volume in schizophrenia or controls.

Keywords: OCT and Schizophrenia; OCT and Schizophrenia and inflammation; Schizophrenia positive symptoms and retina; Schizophrenia symptoms and OCT; Schizophrenia symptoms and retina.