RESEARCH: New Evidence on Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder
(April 2, 2014) Patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have common biological markers with stress and immune reactions, suggests new research from Australia.
With data from tissue samples taken from the Stanley Medical Research Institute, the Schizophrenia Research Institute compared 35 mentally health individuals, 35 patients with schizophrenia and 34 bipolar patients (“Genes signaling inflammatory stress reactions shared between schizophrenia, bipolar disorder,” Healio Psychiatry, Mar. 21).
The study found that individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia showed the highest levels of an inflammatory-related gene compared to their counterparts diagnosed with bipolar disorder and to those with no diagnosis of mental illness. Individuals with severe mental illness also showed significantly higher levels of stress compared to their healthy counterparts.
"Our data suggest an interrelationship between stress signaling and immune function in the frontal cortex of a portion of individuals, primarily those with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia,” said Stu G. Fillman, the study’s lead author
“Although data on cortisol levels of individuals in this cohort are not currently available," Fillman continued,“it is plausible that elevated cortisol levels in individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may drive the observed changes in both stress and inflammatory gene messenger RNAs.”
The study also found changes in other areas: immunity factors, cell growth, inhibitory signaling and cell death. The mechanism through which these associations occur will require further study, the researchers said.
The Stanley Medical Research Institute is a supporting organization of the Treatment Advocacy Center.
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