Psychosis and Inflammation

Does systemic inflammation play a role in pediatric psychosis?


Context: Human and animal studies have suggested an underlying inflammatory mechanism for a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia. To date, most available reports focused on adult patients.

Objective: We wished to test the hypothesis that the first psychotic episode in youth is associated with inflammation.

Patients: We studied patients admitted to a pediatric inpatient psychiatric unit. Patients (n=80) had new-onset psychosis diagnosed using DSM-IV TR criteria for Psychosis NOS, schizophreniform disorder or schizoaffective disorder. Patients were matched for age, race and gender with inpatient controls without psychosis within the same unit (n=66). We also compared these values to normal pediatric hematologic values.

To study the role of inflammation in youth with psychosis, we collected serum samples of 28 children presenting with first episode psychosis and compared their serum cytokine and S100B levels to 8 healthy controls.

Main Outcome Measures: In this study, we measured serum markers of systemic inflammation.

Results: Leukocyte counts revealed a statistically significant increase in absolute monocytes compared to patients without psychosis (0.61±0.282 k/µl vs. 0.496±0.14 k/ml; p<0.01) and lymphocytes (2.51±0.84 k/ml vs. 2.24±0.72 k/ml; p<0.05) in patients with psychosis.

All other hematologic values were similar between the groups.

In addition, psychosis was characterized by increased serum levels of S100B, a peripheral marker of BBB damage.

Several inflammatory mediators (e.g., TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6Il-5, IL-10, and IFN-γ) were elevated in children with psychosis.

Conclusions: These results strongly support a link between systemic inflammation, blood-brain barrier disruption and first episode psychosis in pediatric patients.


Further Readings of Interest


This entry was posted in Autism, Environment, Immune System, Inflammation, Neurology, Physiology, Schizophrenia, Treatment. Bookmark the permalink.

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