BACKGROUND: During last years, there has been an intensive search for blood biomarkers in schizophrenia to assist in diagnosis, prognosis and clinical management of the disease.
METHODS: In this study, we first conducted a weighted gene coexpression network analysis to address differentially expressed genes in peripheral blood from patients with chronic schizophrenia (n = 30) and healthy controls (n = 15). The discriminating performance of the candidate genes was further tested in an independent cohort of patients with first-episode schizophrenia (n = 124) and healthy controls (n = 54), and in postmortem brain samples (cingulate and prefrontal cortices) from patients with schizophrenia (n = 34) and healthy controls (n = 35).
RESULTS: The expression of the Eukaryotic Translation Initiation Factor 2D (EIF2D) gene, which is involved in protein synthesis regulation, was increased in the chronic patients of schizophrenia. On the contrary, the expression of the Thymocyte Selection-Associated High Mobility Group Box (TOX) gene, involved in immune function, was reduced. EIF2D expression was also altered in first-episode schizophrenia patients, but showing reduced levels. Any of the postmortem brain areas studied did not show differences of expression of both genes.
CONCLUSIONS: EIF2D and TOX are putative blood markers of chronic patients of schizophrenia, which expression change from the onset to the chronic disease, unraveling new biological pathways that can be used for the development of new intervention strategies in the diagnosis and prognosis of schizophrenia disease.