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Individuals at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis have been found to have altered cytokine levels, but whether these changes are related to clinical outcomes remains unclear. We addressed this issue by measuring serum levels of 20 immune markers in 325 participants (n = 269 CHR, n = 56 healthy controls) using multiplex immunoassays, and then followed up the CHR sample to determine their clinical outcomes. Among 269 CHR individuals, 50 (18.6 %) developed psychosis by two years. Univariate and machine learning techniques were used to compare levels of inflammatory markers in CHR subjects and healthy controls, and in CHR subjects who had (CHR-t), or had not (CHR-nt) transitioned to psychosis. An ANCOVA identified significant group differences (CHR-t, CHR-nt and controls) and post-hoc tests indicated that VEGF levels and the IL-10/IL-6 ratio were significantly higher in CHR-t than CHR-nt, after adjusting for multiple comparisons. Using a penalised logistic regression classifier, CHR participants were distinguished from controls with an area-under the curve (AUC) of 0.82, with IL-6 and IL-4 levels the most important discriminating features. Transition to psychosis was predicted with an AUC of 0.57, with higher VEGF level and IL-10/IL-6 ratio the most important discriminating features. These data suggest that alterations in the levels of peripheral immune markers are associated with the subsequent onset of psychosis. The association with increased VEGF levels could reflect altered blood-brain-barrier (BBB) permeability, while the link with an elevated IL-10/IL-6 ratio points to an imbalance between anti- and pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain Behav Immun

Publication Date





290 - 296


Clinical high risk, Cytokines, Immune markers, Inflammation, Interleukin-6, Psychosis, Transition, VEGF, Humans, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A, Interleukin-10, Interleukin-6, Psychotic Disorders, Biomarkers, Cytokines