A molecular pathway analysis informs the genetic background at risk for schizophrenia

Concetta Crisafulli, Antonio Drago, Marco Calabrò, Edoardo Spina, Alessandro Serretti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Schizophrenia is a complex mental disorder marked by severely impaired thinking, delusional thoughts, hallucinations and poor emotional responsiveness. The biological mechanisms that lead to schizophrenia may be related to the genetic background of patients. Thus, a genetic perspective may help to unravel the molecular pathways disrupted in schizophrenia. Methods: In the present work, we used a molecular pathway analysis to identify the molecular pathways associated with schizophrenia. We collected data of genetic loci previously associated with schizophrenia, identified the genes located in those positions and created the metabolic pathways that are related to those genes' products. These pathways were tested for enrichment (a number of SNPs associated with the phenotype significantly higher than expected by chance) in a sample of schizophrenic patients and controls (4486 and 4477, respectively). Results: The molecular pathway that resulted from the identification of all the genes located in the loci previously found to be associated with schizophrenia was found to be enriched, as expected (permutated p(106)=9.9999e-06).We found 60 SNPs amongst 30 different genes with a strong association with schizophrenia. The genes are related to the pathways related to neurodevelopment, apoptosis, vesicle traffic, immune response and MAPK cascade. Conclusions: The pathway related to the toll-like receptor family seemed to play a central role in the modulation/connection of various pathways whose disruption leads to schizophrenia. This pathway is related to the innate immune system, further stressing the role of immunological-related events in increasing the risk to schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - Jun 3 2015


  • Pathway analysis
  • Schizophrenia
  • TLR
  • Toll-like receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Pharmacology
  • Medicine(all)


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