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Front Cell Neurosci. 2013 Jun 26;7:95. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2013.00095. eCollection 2013.

Biomarker investigations related to pathophysiological pathways in schizophrenia and psychosis.

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Department of Psychiatry, Melbourne Brain Centre, The University of Melbourne Parkville, VIC, Australia.


Post-mortem brain investigations of schizophrenia have generated swathes of data in the last few decades implicating candidate genes and protein. However, the relation of these findings to peripheral biomarker indicators and symptomatology remain to be elucidated. While biomarkers for disease do not have to be involved with underlying pathophysiology and may be largely indicative of diagnosis or prognosis, the ideal may be a biomarker that is involved in underlying disease processes and which is therefore more likely to change with progression of the illness as well as potentially being more responsive to treatment. One of the main difficulties in conducting biomarker investigations for major psychiatric disorders is the relative inconsistency in clinical diagnoses between disorders such as bipolar and schizophrenia. This has led some researchers to investigate biomarkers associated with core symptoms of these disorders, such as psychosis. The aim of this review is to evaluate the contribution of post-mortem brain investigations to elucidating the pathophysiology pathways involved in schizophrenia and psychosis, with an emphasis on major neurotransmitter systems that have been implicated. This data will then be compared to functional neuroimaging findings as well as findings from blood based gene expression investigations in schizophrenia in order to highlight the relative overlap in pathological processes between these different modalities used to elucidate pathogenesis of schizophrenia. In addition we will cover some recent and exciting findings demonstrating microRNA (miRNA) dysregulation in both the blood and the brain in patients with schizophrenia. These changes are pertinent to the topic due to their known role in post-transcriptional modification of gene expression with the potential to contribute or underlie gene expression changes observed in schizophrenia. Finally, we will discuss how post-mortem studies may aid future biomarker investigations.


biomarkers; gene expression regulation; postmortem brain; psychosis; schizophrenia

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