Blood samples can reveal possibility of developing a psychotic disorder: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on August 28, 2020

According to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, blood samples can reveal if a person with mild or brief psychotic symptoms can develop a full-fledged psychotic disorder.

The study suggested that some people studied are at risk of developing a serious psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia — however, only 20-30 per cent of these people will actually go on to develop one.

The researchers from the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences examined the blood samples taken from people at clinical high risk of psychosis. These individuals were followed up for several years to see who did and did not develop a psychotic disorder.

The researchers analysed the proteins present in blood samples and used machine learning to assess the data.

The scientists were able to find patterns of proteins in the early blood samples that could predict who did and did not develop a psychotic disorder.

Many of these proteins are involved in inflammation, suggesting that there are early changes in the immune system in people who eventually develop a serious psychotic disorder.

The findings of the study also suggested that it is possible to speculate their outcomes using blood samples taken several years in advance.

The most accurate test was based on the 10 most predictive proteins. It identified those who would develop a psychotic disorder in 93 per cent of high-risk cases, and it detected those who would not in 80 per cent of cases.

“Ideally, we would like to prevent psychotic disorders, but that requires being able to accurately identify who is most at risk,” said David Cotter, the lead author of the study.

He added: “Our research has shown that, with help from machine learning, analysis of protein levels in blood samples can predict who is at truly at risk and could possibly benefit from preventive treatments. We now need to study these markers in other people at high risk of psychosis to confirm these findings.”

Published on August 28, 2020

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