BACKGROUND: Metabolic abnormalities and peripheral inflammation have been increasingly reported in patients at the onset of psychosis and associated with important physical health disorders and increased mortality. However, the impact of an abnormal metabolic-inflammatory status on the psychiatric outcome of these patients has not yet been investigated.

OBJECTIVES: The aims of this study were 1) to explore whether, in a sample of patients at their first episode of psychosis (FEP), an overall metabolic-inflammatory status may be measured, by combining metabolic and inflammatory variables in metabolic-inflammatory factors; 2) to explore the association between these factors and clinical outcome at 1-year follow-up (FU), in terms of symptoms severity and treatment response.

METHODS: In this longitudinal study we recruited 42 FEP patients and 46 healthy controls (HC) matched with patients for age, gender and ethnicity. At baseline (T1) we measured high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) as biomarker of inflammation, and body mass index (BMI), lipid profile and gluco-metabolic parameters (glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) and fasting glucose) as metabolic variables. A principal component analysis (PCA) was then used to reduce the dimensionality of the dataset accounting for both inflammation and metabolic status. In FEP patients, we assessed symptoms severity at T1 and at 1-year FU (T2) as well as treatment response to antipsychotics at T2.

RESULTS: at T1, FEP showed higher HbA1c (p = 0.034), triglycerides (TG) (p = 0.045) and BMI (p = 0.026) than HC. PCA identified 3 factors: factor 1 accounting for hsCRP, TG and BMI, factor 2 accounting for LDL and cholesterol, and factor 3 accounting for fasting glucose and HbA1c. Factor 1 was associated with T1 negative symptoms severity (p = 0.021) and predicted T2 positive (p = 0.004) and overall symptoms severity (0.001), as well as general psychopathology (p < 0.001) and T2 treatment response (p = 0.007).

CONCLUSION: In this sample of FEP patients, inflammation and metabolism, closely correlated at the onset of psychosis, proved to play a key role as predictors of the clinical course of psychosis when combined in a single factor. These findings offer an important potential target for early screening and interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-153
Number of pages9
Early online date8 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


  • BMI
  • Clinical outcome
  • First episode psychosis
  • Inflammation
  • Metabolism
  • Predictor


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