Psychiatry Investig Search


Psychiatry Investig > Volume 20(9); 2023 > Article
Psychiatry Investigation 2023;20(9):818-825.
DOI:    Published online September 19, 2023.
Identification of Plasma Biomarkers in Drug-Naïve Schizophrenia Using Targeted Metabolomics
Qiao Su  , Fuyou Bi  , Shu Yang  , Huiming Yan  , Xiaoxiao Sun  , Jiayue Wang  , Yuying Qiu  , Meijuan Li  , Shen Li  , Jie Li 
Tianjin Mental Health Institute, Tianjin Anding Hospital, Mental Health Center of Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, China
Correspondence: Shen Li ,Tel: +86-22-88188875, Fax: +86-22-88188006, Email:
Correspondence: Jie Li ,Tel: +86-22-88188155, Fax: +86-22-88188006, Email:
Received: April 18, 2023   Revised: June 5, 2023   Accepted: June 14, 2023   Published online: September 19, 2023
Schizophrenia (SCZ) is a severe psychiatric disorder with unknown etiology and lacking specific biomarkers. Herein, we aimed to explore plasma biomarkers relevant to SCZ using targeted metabolomics.
Sixty drug-naïve SCZ patients and 36 healthy controls were recruited. Psychotic symptoms were assessed using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale. We analyzed the levels of 271 metabolites in plasma samples from all subjects using targeted metabolomics, and identified metabolites that differed significantly between the two groups. Then we evaluated the diagnostic power of the metabolites based on receiver operating characteristic curves, and explored metabolites associated with the psychotic symptoms in SCZ patients.
Twenty-six metabolites showed significant differences between SCZ patients and healthy controls. Among them, 12 metabolites were phosphatidylcholines and cortisol, ceramide (d18:1/22:0), acetylcarnitine, and γ-aminobutyric acid, which could significantly distinguish SCZ from healthy controls with the area under the curve (AUC) above 0.7. Further, a panel consisting of the above 4 metabolites had an excellent performance with an AUC of 0.867. In SCZ patients, phosphatidylcholines were positively related with positive symptoms, and cholic acid was positively associated with negative symptoms.
Our study provides insights into the metabolite alterations associated with SCZ and potential biomarkers for its diagnosis and symptom severity assessment.
Key words   Schizophrenia; Metabolomics; Plasma; Biomarker; Phosphatidylcholines


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