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Peripheral inflammation levels associated with degree of advanced brain aging in schizophrenia.


Brain structural abnormalities have been demonstrated in schizophrenia (SZ); these resemble those seen in typical aging, but are seen at younger ages. Furthermore, SZ is associated with accelerated global brain aging, as measured by brain structure-based brain predicted age difference (Brain-PAD). High heterogeneity exists in the degree of brain abnormalities in SZ, and individual differences may be related to levels of peripheral inflammation and may relate to cognitive deficits and negative symptoms. The goal of our study was to investigate the relationship between brain aging, peripheral inflammation, and symptoms of SZ. We hypothesized older brain-PAD in SZ vs. healthy comparison (HC) participants, as well as positive relationships of brain-PAD with peripheral inflammation markers and symptoms in SZ. We analyzed data from two cross-sectional studies in SZ (n = 26; M/F: 21/5) and HC (n = 28; 20/8) (22-64 years). Brain-PAD was calculated using a previously validated Gaussian process regression model applied to raw T1-weighted MRI data. Plasma levels of inflammatory biomarkers (CRP, Eotaxin, Fractalkine, IP10, IL6, IL10, ICAM1, IFNγ, MCP1, MIP1β, SAA, TNFα, VEGF, VCAM1) and cognitive and negative symptoms were assessed. We observed a higher brain-PAD in SZ vs. HC, and advanced brain age relative to chronological age was related to higher peripheral levels of TNFα in the overall group and in the SZ group; other inflammatory markers were not related to brain-PAD. Within the SZ group, we observed no association between cognitive or negative symptoms and brain-PAD. These results support our hypothesis of advanced brain aging in SZ. Furthermore, our findings on the relationship of the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNFα with higher brain-PAD of SZ are relevant to explain heterogeneity of brain ages in SZ, but we did not find strong evidence for cognitive or negative symptom relationships with brain-PAD.

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