Monday, September 16, 2013

C-reactive Protein May Predict Development of Late-Onset Schizophrenia, Study Finds

In a large prospective study, researchers found that elevated blood levels of a major factor in the body's immune system—C-reactive protein—were associated with a six- to 11-fold increased risk of developing late-onset schizophrenia. The senior researcher was Boerge Nordestgaard of Denmark's Copenhagen University Hospital. The results are published in Schizophrenia Bulletin.

"The association of C-reactive protein with late-onset schizophrenia is very robust, even after health-related confounds are addressed," William Carpenter, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland and a schizophrenia expert, told Psychiatric News. However, "The immediate challenge with this report is the causal direction," he pointed out. "Is elevated C-reactive protein causing a porous blood brain barrier, permitting entry for pro-inflammatory cytokines, for example, or are variables associated with schizophrenia, such as therapeutic or abuse drugs, causing the C-reactive protein elevation?"

But assuming that C-reactive protein is actually contributing to schizophrenia risk, he indicated, then it helps support the "inflammatory pathophysiology hypothesis in schizophrenia"—a hypothesis that "is opening new opportunities for etiology and therapeutic discovery."

For example, during the past five years, scientists at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, as well as those in England, Israel, and Japan, have reported that the antibiotic minocycline countered not just schizophrenia's positive symptoms, but negative ones as well in some patients. To read more about this subject, see the Psychiatric News article "Will Antibiotic Fulfill Its Psychosis-Fighting Promise?"

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