Microbiome Differs Between Schizophrenic Patients and Controls

Keith A. Crandall, PhD Director - Computational Biology Institute George Washington University Innovation Hall Suite 305 Ashburn, VA 20147-2766MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Keith A. Crandall, PhD
Director – Computational Biology Institute
George Washington University
Innovation Hall Suite 305
Ashburn, VA 20147-2766

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Crandall: We wanted to investigate whether or not there were significant differences in the microbiome (microbial composition) of patients with schizophrenia versus controls.  The other researchers have demonstrated a connection between microbiome diversity and brain development and behavior modulation associated with a variety of disorders.  Our initial study focuses on the oropharyngeal as a target for the microbiome characterization, but we have additional work relating to other microbiomes (e.g., gut) for which we are still in the process of analyzing the data.     Collected microbiome data from 16 individuals with schizophrenia and 16 controls (matched as best we could and corrected statistically for differences between the populations), we showed differences in the microbiome taxonomic diversity and functional diversity.  Specifically, we identified a significant increase in the number of metabolic pathways related to metabolite transport systems; whereas, carbohydrate and lipid pathways and energy metabolism were abundant in controls.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Crandall: Our data suggests am differences in microbiome between schizophrenic patients and controls, but from taxonomic and functional perspectives.  Thus, the microbiome at the minimum might be an important biomarker for diagnosis and targeting treatment options.  Whether or not the microbiome is changing as a result of schizophrenia or these changes cause schizophrenia remains to be investigated.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Crandall: Our study is based on a relatively small sample size and a single targeted microbiome.  Future work should include increased sample sizes to determine the robustness of these initial conclusions.  Additionally, other microbiome characterization (like gut) might be informative as well.  We are really at the forefront of understanding microbiome diversity and complexity over space and time.  Novel methods are needed to characterize microbiome diversity and statically test or changes in the microbiome over space and time and in case/control settings.  The Crandall Lab is develop such approaches and implementing our approaches in software packages such as PathoScope.

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Eduardo Castro-Nallar, Matthew L. Bendall, Marcos Pérez-Losada, Sarven Sabuncyan, Emily G. Severance, Faith B. Dickerson, Jennifer R. Schroeder, Robert H. Yolken, Keith A. Crandall. Composition, taxonomy and functional diversity of the oropharynx microbiome in individuals with schizophrenia and controls. Peer J, August 25th, 2015 [link]

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MedicalResearch.com Interview with:, & Keith A. Crandall, PhD (2015). Microbiome Differs Between Schizophrenic Patients and Controls