Markers of inflammation and stress distinguish subsets of individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
Fillman, SG and Sinclair, D and Fung, SJ and Webster, MJ and Weickert, CS, Markers of inflammation and stress distinguish subsets of individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, Translational Psychiatry, 4 pp. 1-10. ISSN 2158-3188 (2014) [Refereed Article]
Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder share a number of common features, both symptomatically and biologically. Abnormalities in the neuroimmune and the stress-signaling pathways have been previously identified in brains of individuals with both diseases. However, the possible relationship between abnormalities in stress and neuroimmune signaling within the cortex of people with psychotic illness has not been defined. To test the hypothesis that combined alterations in brain stress responsiveness and neuroimmune/inflammatory status are characteristic of some individuals suffering from major mental illness, we examined gene expression in the Stanley Array Cohort of 35 controls, 35 individuals with schizophrenia and 34 individuals with bipolar disorder. We used levels of 8 inflammatory-related transcripts, of which SERPINA3 was significantly elevated in individuals with schizophrenia (F(2,88)=4.137, P<0.05), and 12 glucocorticoid receptor signaling (stress) pathway transcripts previously examined, to identify two clusters of individuals: a high inflammation/stress group (n=32) and a low (n=68) inflammation/stress group. The high inflammation/stress group has a significantly greater number of individuals with schizophrenia (n=15), and a trend toward having more bipolar disorder individuals (n=11), when compared with controls (n=6). Using these subgroups, we tested which microarray-assessed transcriptional changes may be associated with high inflammatory/stress groups using ingenuity analysis and found that an extended network of gene expression changes involving immune, growth factors, inhibitory signaling and cell death factors also distinguished these groups. Our work demonstrates that some of the heterogeneity in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may be partially explained by inflammation/stress interactions, and that this biological subtype cuts across Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-defined categories.