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World J Psychiatry. 2016 Mar 22;6(1):102-17. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v6.i1.102. eCollection 2016 Mar 22.

Biomarkers in schizophrenia: A focus on blood based diagnostics and theranostics.

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Chi-Yu Lai, Elizabeth Scarr, Madhara Udawela, Ian Everall, Brian Dean, the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia.


Identifying biomarkers that can be used as diagnostics or predictors of treatment response (theranostics) in people with schizophrenia (Sz) will be an important step towards being able to provide personalized treatment. Findings from the studies in brain tissue have not yet been translated into biomarkers that are practical in clinical use because brain biopsies are not acceptable and neuroimaging techniques are expensive and the results are inconclusive. Thus, in recent years, there has been search for blood-based biomarkers for Sz as a valid alternative. Although there are some encouraging preliminary data to support the notion of peripheral biomarkers for Sz, it must be acknowledged that Sz is a complex and heterogeneous disorder which needs to be further dissected into subtype using biological based and clinical markers. The scope of this review is to critically examine published blood-based biomarker of Sz, focusing on possible uses for diagnosis, treatment response, or their relationship with schizophrenia-associated phenotype. We sorted the studies into six categories which include: (1) brain-derived neurotrophic factor; (2) inflammation and immune function; (3) neurochemistry; (4) oxidative stress response and metabolism; (5) epigenetics and microRNA; and (6) transcriptome and proteome studies. This review also summarized the molecules which have been conclusively reported as potential blood-based biomarkers for Sz in different blood cell types. Finally, we further discusses the pitfall of current blood-based studies and suggest that a prediction model-based, Sz specific, blood oriented study design as well as standardize blood collection conditions would be useful for Sz biomarker development.


Biomarker; Clinical courses; Diagnostics; Peripheral blood; Schizophrenia; Schizophrenia-associated phenotype; Treatment response

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