Researchers discover diagnostic marker for schizophrenia

November 18, 1999

Johns Hopkins researchers have identified a chemical marker in cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) that may help doctors treat and diagnose individuals with schizophrenia.

"Finding this activity in CSF could give us the first real tool for identifying patients with schizophrenia," says Frances Yee, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the Stanley Neurovirology Laboratory.

For several years, researchers have found evidence that retroviruses may be associated with some cases of schizophrenia. Because retroviruses can't reproduce by themselves, they exploit living host cells and use an enzyme called reverse transcriptase (RT) to copy themselves into host genomes and replicate. In 1998, Yee and colleagues discovered that individuals with schizophrenia had higher levels of RT enzyme activity in their post mortem brain tissue.

As a next step, researchers tested activity levels of this enzyme in the CSF of 18 schizophrenic patients and 18 similar individuals unaffected by the disease. The researchers found that patients with a recent onset of schizophrenia had significantly higher levels, almost a fourfold increase, of RT activity in their CSF in comparison to the controls.

Yee and her team plan to launch a study in a larger group of patients and have hopes that, in the future, this marker could be used to diagnose and treat schizophrenia. "If you have a marker where you can say, if this goes up they are going to have a psychotic episode,' then you might use a slightly different mix of drugs to treat them," says Yee.

Results of Yee's study were reported at the Fifth Annual Symposium on the Neurovirology and Neuroimmunology of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. The symposium was held Nov. 4 in Bethesda, Maryland.

Johns Hopkins Medicine

Related Schizophrenia Articles from Brightsurf:

Schizophrenia: When the thalamus misleads the ear
Scientists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the Synapsy National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) have succeeded in linking the onset of auditory hallucinations - one of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia - with the abnormal development of certain substructures of a region deep in the brain called the thalamus.

Unlocking schizophrenia
New research, led by Prof. LIU Bing and Prof. JIANG Tianzi from the Institute of Automation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and their collaborators have recently developed a novel imaging marker that may help in the personalized medicine of psychiatric disorders.

Researchers discover second type of schizophrenia
In a study of more than 300 patients from three continents, over one third had brains that looked similar to healthy people.

New clues into the genetic origins of schizophrenia
The first genetic analysis of schizophrenia in an ancestral African population, the South African Xhosa, appears in the Jan.

Dietary supplement may help with schizophrenia
A dietary supplement, sarcosine, may help with schizophrenia as part of a holistic approach complementing antipsychotic medication, according to a UCL researcher.

Schizophrenia: Adolescence is the game-changer
Schizophrenia may be related to the deletion syndrome. However, not everyone who has the syndrome necessarily develops psychotic symptoms.

Study suggests overdiagnosis of schizophrenia
In a small study of patients referred to the Johns Hopkins Early Psychosis Intervention Clinic (EPIC), Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers report that about half the people referred to the clinic with a schizophrenia diagnosis didn't actually have schizophrenia.

The ways of wisdom in schizophrenia
Researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine report that persons with schizophrenia scored lower on a wisdom assessment than non-psychiatric comparison participants, but that there was considerable variability in levels of wisdom, and those with higher scores displayed fewer psychotic symptoms.

Recognizing the uniqueness of different individuals with schizophrenia
Individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia differ greatly from one another. Researchers from Radboud university medical center, along with colleagues from England and Norway, have demonstrated that very few identical brain differences are shared amongst different patients.

Resynchronizing neurons to erase schizophrenia
Today, a decisive step in understanding schizophrenia has been taken.

Read More: Schizophrenia News and Schizophrenia Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to