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Prog Neurobiol. 2011 Dec;95(4):686-702. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2011.05.006. Epub 2011 Jun 6.

Discovery and development of integrative biological markers for schizophrenia.

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Laboratory of Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Goethe University, Heinrich-Hoffmann-Str. 10, D-60590, Frankfurt, Germany.


Schizophrenia is one of the most disabling forms of mental illness. One of the most important challenges is to establish biological markers which can accurately identify at-risk individuals in preclinical stages and thus improve the effects of early intervention strategies. Here, we review recent findings in the field of molecular genetics, CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) based markers as well as structural and functional neuroimaging in the light of their relevance for schizophrenia biomarker research. We also examine evidence supporting the hypothesis that schizophrenia and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease may share certain pathophysiological features, e.g. chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, and discuss their possible role in schizophrenia. The heterogeneous, multifaceted and multifactorial nature of the traditionally clinically operationalized entity "schizophrenia" presents an enormous challenge towards the identification of single diagnostic or surrogate markers. We propose that abnormal neural coordination is a major point of convergence of a number of crucial pathophysiological pathways. Therefore, functional markers reflecting disturbed neural coordination might be particularly attractive biomarker candidates, because of their ability to integrate the influence of diverse pathophysiological mechanisms. Similarly, combinatorial and multimodal approaches may be a promising way to more accurately capture the complex biological underpinnings schizophrenia. We consider the development of such integrative biomarkers to be essential in order to facilitate a timely diagnosis of schizophrenia. They should also advance our understanding of the subtle and intricate biological nature of schizophrenia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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