Gene expression analysis in blood of ultra-high risk subjects compared to first-episode of psychosis patients and controls

<div><p></p><p><i>Objectives.</i> This study aimed to investigate peripheral blood gene expression in ultra-high-risk subjects (UHR) compared to first-episode psychosis individuals (FEP) and healthy controls (HC). <i>Methods.</i> We enrolled 22 UHR, 66 FEP and 67 HC and investigated the expression of 12 genes using Taqman assays. We used the Univariate General Linear Model, as well as Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons. <i>Results.</i> We found that <i>UFD1L</i> (ubiquitin fusion degradation 1 like (yeast)) gene was upregulated in UHR group compared to HC and FEP (<i>P = </i>3.44 × 10<sup>–6</sup> ; <i>P = </i>9.41 × 10<sup>–6</sup>). <i>MBP</i> (myelin basic protein) was downregulated in UHR compared to FEP (<i>P = </i>6.07 × 10<sup>–6</sup>). <i>DISC1</i> (disrupted in schizophrenia 1) was also upregulated in UHR compared to FEP but lost statistical significance when corrected for age. <i>Conclusions.</i> These genes are directly related to neurodevelopmental processes and have been associated to schizophrenia. Recent findings described that <i>DISC1</i> overexpression can disrupt <i>MBP</i> expression, thus, we think that these alterations in UHR individuals could be associated with a common process. <i>UFD1L</i> showed a different pattern of expression only for UHR group, suggesting that they can be under an acute endoplasmatic reticulum stress, demanding elevated levels of Ufd1. Further studies can improve knowledge on disease progression and putative targets to preventive strategies.</p></div>