Biomarkers of psychosis identified in new study

Written by Alice Weatherston

In a study carried out at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (TX, USA), The Bipolar-Schizophrenia Network on Intermediate Phenotypes has successfully identified three neurobiologically distinct biotypes for psychosis. The team also noted that these biomarkers were not synergistic with standard clinical observations for psychosis diagnosis in some cases.
The study, which was published recently in the American Journal of Psychiatry, carried out cognitive, eye-tracking and electroencephalography tests as well as MRI on participants, which included individuals diagnosed with psychosis, first-degree relatives and control subjects.

The findings from the biomarker battery in 1872 of those tested indicated three distinct biomarker clusters, or biotypes, associated with psychosis, each of varying impairment and linked to different clinical indicators.

“What’s puzzling and fascinating at the same time is that all three biologically driven disease constructs, or biotypes, might be clinically diagnosed as having schizophrenia, schizoaffective, or bipolar disorder,” explained Carol Tamminga (The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center). “In a sense, we have totally deconstructed and rethought the basis for diagnosis in psychosis.”

“There are multiple examples in other fields of medicine where use of biomarkers has led to a distinction of unique diseases that overlap in their symptom presentations. Hopefully, this neurobiological examination of severe mental illness will lead to more precise, biologically meaningful diagnoses and novel treatments,” added Tamminga.

The team now hope that that the discovery of this empirical set of biomarkers may help to improve the diagnosis and treatment of psychosis and even aid in the identification of new molecular targets for novel treatments.

Source: The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center press release