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Approved Research

Investigating the relationship between neuroimaging measures, clinical profiles and cognitive performance as associated with immuno-metabolic biomarkers in neuropsychiatric disorders.

Principal Investigator: Dr Jack Rogers
Approved Research ID: 92051
Approval date: September 14th 2022

Lay summary

Neuropsychiatric disorders like schizophrenia cause suffering to millions of people, many of whom do not get better despite prolonged treatment. Our immune system defends the body against a wide variety of stresses and is believed to play a key role in regulating our mental health, helping to mobilize the body's mechanisms for repairing itself. Research suggests that inflammation in the body (over-activity of one aspect of the immune system) may play a key role in the development and persistence of psychotic symptoms seen in schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, such as difficulty processing information, fatigue, and poor motivation. Inflammation may also make it difficult for people to get better, even after taking medication. This research project aims to further investigate the relationships between immune activity, symptoms such as fatigue, low mood, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, and cognitive abilities, such as our ability to sustain attention and remember recent information. The relationships between these factors and how our brains are structured and function will be investigated. This research, conducted over 36 months, would allow us to compare similarities and differences across these key factors across different identified groups. People with, or at risk, for neuropsychiatric illness with evidence of inflammation; people with, or at risk, for neuropsychiatric illness without evidence of inflammation; and people without evidence of neuropsychiatric illness (often referred to as healthy controls). The classification of these different groups would provide important insight into whether inflammation plays a critical role in causing mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, the potential impact of immune dysfunction on our brains structure and function, and whether anti-inflammatory drugs targeting particular immune-related features in our bodies could be used to treat some patients in the future.