Differential expression of the inflammation marker IL12p40 in the at-risk mental state for psychosis: a predictor of transition to psychotic disorder?

BACKGROUND: The identification of biomarkers of transition from the at-risk mental state (ARMS) to psychotic disorder is important because early treatment of psychosis is associated with improved outcome. Increasing evidence points to an inflammatory contribution to psychosis. We questioned whether raised levels of plasma inflammatory markers predict transition from ARMS to psychotic disorder and whether any such predictors could be reduced by omega-3 (ω-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).

METHODS: We measured the levels of 40 neuroinflammation biomarkers using a commercially available immunoassay kit. Firstly, we compared inflammatory markers in subjects in the ARMS who transitioned to psychotic disorder (n = 11) compared to subjects who did not (n = 28). Then we compared inflammatory markers in all subjects before and after ω-3 PUFA treatment (n = 40).

RESULTS: Our data provides preliminary evidence that elevations in the baseline plasma levels of the inflammatory marker IL12/IL23p40 are associated with transition from ARMS to psychotic disorder. IL12/IL23p40 levels did not change following 12 weeks administration of ω-3 PUFAs. These findings provide evidence that elevated plasma IL12/IL23p40 is a potential biomarker of increased risk for transition to psychotic disorder.

CONCLUSION: Further studies are required to confirm and extend this finding. Our results do not provide support for the possibility that administration of ω-3 PUFAs act to reduced transition to psychotic disorder by reducing blood levels of IL12/IL23p40.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov, a service of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Identifier: NCT00396643 , last updated December 20, 2007. Retrospectively registered.