Inflammation in Schizophrenia: Cytokine Levels and Their Relationships to Demographic and Clinical Variables.
Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2016 Oct 17. Epub 2016 Aug 17. PMID: 27840055
Ellen E Lee
OBJECTIVE: Inflammation may play a role in the accelerated physical aging reported in schizophrenia, though biomarker findings and associations with demographic and clinical factors are inconsistent.
METHODS: In a cross-sectional, case-control design, 95 outpatients with schizophrenia (mean age ± SD: 48.1 ± 10.2 years) and 95 demographically comparable healthy comparison subjects (HCs) (mean age ± SD: 48.1 ± 12.1 years) were studied. Sociodemographic and clinical data were collected, and plasma levels of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) were assayed. The authors compared cytokine levels, examined demographic and clinical associations, and adjusted for relevant variables with linear models.
RESULTS: Individuals with schizophrenia had higher levels of TNF-α and IL-6 but not IFN-γ than HCs. Age was not related to cytokine levels, and age relationships did not differ between diagnostic groups. Women had higher levels of IL-6. TNF-α and IL-6 levels were significantly correlated with depressive symptoms, and adjustment for depression reduced the groupeffect for both. Within the HCs, TNF-α levels were associated with physical comorbidity and body mass index. IL-6 levels were significantly correlated with body mass index and within schizophrenia patients, with worse mental and physical well-being. Accounting for physical morbidity and mental well-being reduced group differences in TNF-α and IL-6 levels, respectively. Worse positive symptoms were associated with higher IL-6 levels.
CONCLUSION: Higher TNF-α and IL-6 levels in schizophrenia patients were associated with depression, physical comorbidity, and mental well-being. Further longitudinal studies are warranted to assess inflammation as a potential treatment target for a subgroup of schizophrenia.