Scientists in Finland have revealed metabolic abnormalities that are
associated with schizophrenia. This may be an important step towards
development of a clinical test of the disease.
Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe psychotic disorder that affects around
1% of the population. Currently, there is no clinical test for diagnosing
schizophrenia, and therefore the condition is usually recognized and treated
on the basis of patient symptoms.
A new study performed by
Matej Orešič and colleagues from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland in
collaboration with Jaana Suvisaari from the Finnish National Institute for
Health and Welfare reveals metabolic abnormalities that are associated
specifically with schizophrenia, as opposed to other psychotic disorders.
These findings, which were published in Genome Medicine in March 2011, might
be an important step towards the development of a clinical diagnostic test for
The team used metabolomics, a high-throughput
method for detecting small metabolites, to produce profiles of the serum
metabolites associated with schizophrenia, other nonaffective psychosis (ONAP)
or affective psychosis. Their analysis indicates that schizophrenia is
associated with elevated serum levels of specific triglycerides, indicative of
hyperinsulinemia, and also upregulation of the serum amino acid proline.
Orešič et al. then combined these metabolic profiles to create a diagnostic
model with the potential to discriminate schizophrenia from other psychoses.
exciting study demonstrates how metabolomics can be a powerful tool for
dissecting disease-related metabolic pathways and for identifying candidate
diagnostic and prognostic markers in psychiatric research.
Orešič, J. Tang, T. Seppänen-Laakso, I. Mattila, S. E. Saarni, S. I. Saarni,
J. Lönnqvist, M. Sysi-Aho, T. Hyötyläinen, J. Perälä, J. Suvisaari, Metabolome
in schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders: a general population-based
study, Genome Medicine (2011). doi: 10.1186/gm233.