A select battery of neurophysiological and neurocognitive biomarkers could provide clinicians with reliable indicators of schizophrenia, even when other symptoms may not be apparent, according to the results of a study published online.
Gregory A. Light, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and colleagues, measured biomarkers in 550 patients with schizophrenia, and then re-tested 200 of the patients 1 year later.
The researchers noted “six neurophysiological and neurocognitive endophenotypes with both prior heritability and demonstrated schizophrenia-related impairments, as well as eight secondary measures investigated as candidate endophenotypes.”
The researchers noted that most of the markers were significantly abnormal in patients with schizophrenia, were relatively stable between the assessments and were not affected by modest fluctuations in clinical status of the patient.
Light said further research is required, including whether endophenotypes can differentiate other psychiatric disorders, be used to anticipate patient response to different kinds of drugs or non-pharmacological interventions, or even be used to predict which subjects are at high risk of developing a psychotic illness.
However, in a press release about the study, Light concluded, “We believe this paper is an important step towards validating laboratory-based biomarkers for use in future genomic and clinical treatment studies of schizophrenia.”
Clinicians typically diagnose schizophrenia based upon inferences drawn from the patient’s ability to describe what's happening inside their mind, but many of these patients have cognitive and functional impairments, which hinders their ability to explain what they are thinking, according to the researchers.
Disclosure: Dr. Light reported no relevant disclosures. Funding for this research came, in part, from National Institute of Mental Health grants MH042228, MH079777 and MH065571 and the Department of Veterans Affairs.