The condition of metabolic and immune systems affects the development of schizophrenia spectrum disorders | University of Tartu

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Contacts of UT units

Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Faculty phone: 
+372 737 5341
Faculty address: 
Jakobi 2, rooms 116–121, 51005 Tartu
  • Dean's Office
    Faculty phone: 
    + 372 737 5341
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, rooms 116–121, 51005 Tartu
  • Institute of History and Archaeology
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5651
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, 51005 Tartu
  • Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5221
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, 51005 Tartu
  • Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5314
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, rooms 309–352, 51005 Tartu
  • Institute of Cultural Research
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5223
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 16, 51003 Tartu
  • School of Theology and Religious Studies
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5301
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18–310, 50090 Tartu
  • College of Foreign Languages and Cultures
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 3, 51003 Tartu
  • Viljandi Culture Academy
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 435 5232
    Faculty address: 
    Posti 1, 71004 Viljandi
Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty phone: 
+372 737 5957
Faculty address: 
Lossi 36, 51003 Tartu
  • Dean's Office
    Faculty phone: 
    + 372 737 5900
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 36, 51003 Tartu
  • Institute of Education
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 6440
    Faculty address: 
    Salme 1a–29, 50103 Tartu
  • Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5582
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 36–301, 51003 Tartu
  • School of Economics and Business Administration
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 6310
    Faculty address: 
    Narva mnt 18, 51009 Tartu
  • Institute of Psychology
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    Näituse 2, 50409 Tartu
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  • Institute of Social Studies
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Faculty of Medicine
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Ravila 19, 50411 Tartu
  • Dean's Office
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  • Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine
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    Biomeedikum, Ravila 19, 50411 Tartu
  • Institute of Pharmacy
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  • Institute of Dentistry
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  • Institute of Clinical Medicine
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    L. Puusepa 8, 50406 Tartu
  • Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health
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    Ravila 19, 50411 Tartu
  • Institute of Sport Sciences and Physiotherapy
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5360
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 5–205, 51005 Tartu
Faculty of Science and Technology
Faculty phone: 
+372 737 5820
Faculty address: 
Vanemuise 46–208, 51014 Tartu
  • Dean's Office
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5820
    Faculty address: 
    Vanemuise 46–208, 51005 Tartu
  • Institute of Computer Science
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5445
    Faculty address: 
    Narva mnt 18, 51009 Tartu
  • Estonian Marine Institute
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 671 8902
    Faculty address: 
    Mäealuse 14, 12618 Tallinn
  • Institute of Physics
    Faculty address: 
    W. Ostwaldi 1, 50411 Tartu
  • Institute of Chemistry
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5261
    Faculty address: 
    Ravila 14a, 50411 Tartu
  • Institute of Mathematics and Statistics
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5860
    Faculty address: 
    Narva mnt 18, 51009 Tartu
  • Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology
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    +372 737 5027
    Faculty address: 
    Riia 23, 23b–134, 51010 Tartu
  • Tartu Observatory
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    Observatooriumi 1, Tõravere, 61602 Tartumaa
  • Institute of Technology
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    Nooruse 1, 50411 Tartu
  • Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences
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    Faculty address: 
    Vanemuise 46, 51003 Tartu
Institutions
  • Library
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5702
    Faculty address: 
    W. Struve 1, 50091 Tartu
  • Youth Academy
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5581
    Faculty address: 
    Uppsala 10, 51003 Tartu
  • Institute of Genomics
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 4000
    Faculty address: 
    Riia 23b, 51010 Tartu
  • Museum
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5674
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 25, 51003 Tartu
  • University of Tartu Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 6076
    Faculty address: 
    Vanemuise 46, 51003 Tartu
Support Units
  • Administrative Office
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5606
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18a, 51005 Tartu
  • Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 6339
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 3, III floor, 51003 Tartu
  • University Office in Tallinn
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 6600
    Faculty address: 
    Teatri väljak 3, 10143 Tallinn
  • Estates Office
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5137
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18a, 51005 Tartu
  • Finance Office
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5125
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 4, 51005 Tartu
  • Grant Office
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    +372 737 6215
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 3, III floor, 51003 Tartu
  • Information Technology Office
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    +372 737 6000, IT-help: +372 737 5500
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18a, 51005 Tartu
  • Human Resources Office
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    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, rooms 302 and 304, 50090 Tartu
  • Internal Audit Office
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    Ülikooli 18-244, 51005 Tartu
  • Marketing and Communication Office
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    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, rooms 102, 104, 209, 210, 50090 Tartu
  • Office of Academic Affairs
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    Ülikooli 18, 50090 Tartu
  • Procurement Office
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    Ülikooli 18a, 51005 Tartu
  • Rector's Strategy Office
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    Ülikooli 18, 50090 Tartu
  • Student Council
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  • University of Tartu Press
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    Faculty address: 
    W. Struve 1, 50091 Tartu
Other Units
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  • Tartu Student Village
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  • Tartu Students’ Club
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  • Tartu University Hospital
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  • University of Tartu Foundation
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  • View all other units

The condition of metabolic and immune systems affects the development of schizophrenia spectrum disorders

Studying the inflammatory and metabolic markers in the different stages of schizophrenia spectrum disorders is of great importance. At the University of Tartu, a study on this topic was completed and the results will help diagnose the disease, and monitor and avoid the manifestation of side effects of the treatment.

A psychotic episode significantly decreases a person’s ability to adequately sense the surrounding world, analyse their feelings, thoughts, behaviour and surroundings. The first psychotic episode may remain the only one, but most of the time, the attacks recur and exacerbate over time – in which case it is a chronic psychotic disorder or a schizophrenia spectrum disorder.

Schizophrenia spectrum disorders are severe and chronic psychotic illnesses that have a strong biological basis. The illness usually manifests in young adulthood and lasts one’s whole life. It is characterised by significant impairments in reality testing and behaviour, which may involve a decline in functioning.

For more than a century, researchers have tried to understand the mental processes in humans and their deviations. Based on the accumulated knowledge, anomalies in psychological functions have been increasingly linked to disturbances in the interaction between the various brain neurotransmitters, which in turn is strongly influenced by the general condition of the body’s metabolic and immune system.

To contribute to research on this topic, a doctoral student in neurosciences at the University of Tartu Faculty of Medicine, Roman Balõtšev, focused in his doctoral thesis “Interaction between the immune and metabolic systems in different stages of schizophrenia spectrum disorders” on the shift in the profiles of inflammatory and metabolic markers measured from blood serum in patients with a psychotic disorder, and compared the results with those of the control group.

The study led by Balõtšev included 38 participants with first-episode psychosis who were included in the study before starting the antipsychotic treatment, and who were monitored over 7 months. The study included a further 105 patients in the chronic stage of the illness. The control group comprised 185 subjects of the same age without any psychotic or other severe psychological disorders and with unaffected close relatives.

The doctoral thesis showed that in the case of first-episode psychosis, an increase can be seen in the patients’ blood serum levels of markers indicating the existence of low-grade inflammation, which recedes during the 7-month treatment. However, the 7-month treatment caused, as a side effect of the treatment, a significant rise in body weight and a shift in an unfavourable direction in the serum levels of biomarkers indicating the metabolic balance (incl. C-peptide, resistin, adiponectin, and leptin).

With a chronic psychotic disorder and ongoing antipsychotic treatment, persistent unwanted increases in the levels of metabolic and inflammatory markers can be seen in the organism, which are linked to a higher risk of developing metabolic disorders and cardiovascular diseases.

Based on earlier scientific results, studying the inflammatory and metabolic specificities in the different stages of schizophrenia spectrum disorders continues to be of high importance. Such studies provide new information for understanding the nature and development of the disease, and enable to avoid unwanted side effects that may occur with antipsychotic treatment.

The results of Balõtšev’s research can be used in the future in clinical work for making more evidence-based diagnoses and for monitoring and avoiding the development of the side effects of antipsychotic treatment.

Roman Balõtšev is defending his doctoral thesis “Interaction between the immune and metabolic systems in different stages of schizophrenia spectrum disorders” 22 May at 10 am, room 1006 at Biomedicum (Ravila 19, Tartu).

Supervisors of the doctoral thesis are a senior research fellow in psychiatry at the University of Tartu, Liina Haring, a professor of human physiology, Eero Vasar, a professor of medical biochemistry, Mihkel Zilmer, and a senior research fellow in human physiology, Kati Koido.

The translation of this article was funded by the European Regional Development Fund through Estonian Research Council.

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