Schizophrenia test may become available

Finnish scientists have recently revealed that that there are certain metabolic abnormalities with a direct association schizophrenia. This is seen as a big step towards the possibility of a clinical test to determine the illness.

The severe and chronic Psychological disorder known as Schizophrenia affects approximately 1% of the world’s population. There is no test at present to diagnose it, so recognition of the condition’ symptoms in a patient is usually the basis of their treatment.

Matej Orešič and his colleagues from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have performed the new study, along with Jaana Suvisaari of the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare. The results shows that the metabolic abnormalities are linked specifically to Schizophrenia, and none of the other psychological disorders. Genome Medicine published the findings earlier this month, and it could well be the breakthrough needed to develop a clinical test..

The team used metabolomics, a high-throughput method for detecting small metabolites, to produce profiles of the serum metabolites associated with schizophrenia, other nonaffective psychosis (ONAP) or affective psychosis. Their analysis indicates that schizophrenia is associated with elevated serum levels of specific triglycerides, indicative of hyperinsulinemia, and also upregulation of the serum amino acid proline. Orešič et al. then combined these metabolic profiles to create a diagnostic model with the potential to discriminate schizophrenia from other psychoses.

This exciting study demonstrates how metabolomics can be a powerful tool for dissecting disease-related metabolic pathways and for identifying candidate diagnostic and prognostic markers in psychiatric research.


M. Orešič, J. Tang, T. Seppänen-Laakso, I. Mattila, S. E. Saarni, S. I. Saarni, J. Lönnqvist, M. Sysi-Aho, T. Hyötyläinen, J. Perälä, J. Suvisaari, Metabolome in schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders: a general population-based study, Genome Medicine (2011). doi: 10.1186/gm233.