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Early-Life Biomarkers for Psychosis Risk in Young People: Another Nail in the Coffin for Cartesian Dualism

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Khandaker, GM 


Disorders of the brain are not confined to this precious lump of fat that is typically thought to be shielded from rest of the body by the blood-brain barrier. Accumulating evidence now challenges Cartesian dualism by demonstrating that many brain disorders, including schizophrenia and depression, involve multiple systems (1). In this issue of Biological Psychiatry, Madrid-Gambin et al. (2) report a case-control study nested in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) birth cohort on the association of psychotic experiences (PEs) in young adults assessed around 18 years of age with blood lipidomics, proteomics, and complement/coagulation protein biomarkers in childhood at 12 years of age. Based on 48 cases of definite PEs and 67 controls, Madrid-Gambin et al. (2) report that levels of a number of these biomarkers, including 12 phosphatidylcholines (PCs), four lysophosphatidylcholines (LPCs), and the coagulation protein plasminogen, are different at baseline between future cases and controls. Evidence for these associations remained after correction for multiple testing. PCs are a type of phospholipid and are a major component of cell membranes. LPCs are also phospholipids that originate from PCs and are present in cell membranes and blood plasma in relatively small quantities. Madrid-Gambin et al. (2) report that most of the lipids that are associated with PEs are also associated with plasminogen. Plasminogen is released from the liver in systemic circulation and is a zymogen or proenzyme (an inactive precursor of an enzyme) of plasmin that acts to dissolve fibrin blood clots. Finally, using a data-driven clustering approach, Madrid-Gambin et al. (2) identified four clusters based on these biomarkers, one of which was strongly associated with PEs—representing a so-called biological signature of psychosis risk in young people.



Adolescent, Biomarkers, Child, Humans, Lipidomics, Longitudinal Studies, Parents, Proteomics, Psychotic Disorders

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Biological Psychiatry

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Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) (BRC 2012-2017)
Wellcome Trust (201486/Z/16/Z)
Medical Research Council (MC_PC_17213)
MQ: Transforming Mental Health (MQDS17\40)
This work was supported by Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellowship Grant No. 201486/Z/16/Z, MQ: Transforming Mental Health Data Science Award Grant No. MQDS17/40, and Medical Research Council Industry Collaboration Agreement (MICA): Mental Health Data Pathfinder Grant No. MC_PC_17213.