In my last post, I mentioned illnesses that are now associated with alterations in the microbiome, and included schizophrenia in that list. Out of curiosity, I’d looked it up a few days prior to writing that post. Sure enough, I found quite a bit, including an article[i] summarizing some interesting research done in 2012. Scientists studied a group of people diagnosed in the past 24 months with schizophrenia, a group people who have had the illness for many years, and a group of normal controls.
All subjects were tested for “…antibodies to gluten, casein, T.gondii (the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis…which is highly associated with mental and behavioral changes in animals), Sacchromyces cerevisiae (a yeast) and some other bugs associated with schizophrenia and gut issues.” Antibodies to S. cerevisiae (ASCA) are used as markers of intestinal inflammation (and are even used diagnostically for Crohn’s.) They discovered that those with schizophrenia (both newly diagnosed and long sick) had significantly elevated levels of ASCA compared to the controls, and these high ASCA antibodies are correlated with anti-casein and anti-gluten antibodies in those with schizophrenia. (Interestingly, even the controls with higher levels of ASCA did not have the high levels of casein and gluten antibodies.)
To summarize: those with schizophrenia have inflamed guts and are highly reactive to common food proteins, gluten and casein. Another thing of note: the newly diagnosed patients had significantly higher levels of antibodies to T.gondii.
I did a quick look to see if there’s any “new news” on this subject. I came across a 2015 article[ii] which states, “Central to GI function is a homeostatic microbial community that early reports show is disrupted in schizophrenia…treatments to ameliorate brain symptoms of schizophrenia should be supplemented with therapies to correct GI dysfunction.”
I then found a review article[iii] summarizing all this, including confirming that casein and gluten may be problematic in schizophrenia:
“Research results seem to be very promising and indicate the possibility of improved clinical outcomes in some patients with schizophrenia by modifying diet, use of probiotics, and the implementation of antibiotic therapy of specific treatment groups.”
I have seen how devastating schizophrenia is first hand. My roommate for 5 years after college had a brother with the illness. I’ve heard too some call schizophrenia “adult onset autism,” and, as you know, I have plenty of experience with that. I’d love to know if improving inflammation levels with a concerted effort to improve the gut biome could help.
[ii] Severance, EG, Prandovszky, E, Castiglione, J, Yolken, RH. Gastrenterology issues in schizophrenia: why the gut matters. Current Psychiatry Reports. 2015. 17(5):27.
[iii] Karakula-Juchnowicz, H, Dzikowski, M, Pelczarska, A, Dzikowska, I, Juchnowicz, D. The brain-gut dysfucntions and hypersentivity to food antigens in the etiopathogenesis of schizophrenia. Pscyhiatria polska. 2016;50(4):747-760.