Jürgen Innos, Kati Koido, Vallo Volke, Liisa Leppik, Ursel Soomets, Liina Haring, Kärt Kriisa, Eero Vasar, Mihkel Zilmer, Roman Balõtšev, Aigar Ottas
Acylcarnitines (ACs) have been shown to have a potential to activate pro-inflammatory signaling pathways and to foster the development of insulin resistance. The first task of the current study was to study the full list of ACs (from C2 to C18) in first episode psychosis (FEP) patients before and after antipsychotic treatment. The second task was to relate ACs to inflammatory and metabolic biomarkers established in the same patient cohort as in our previous studies. Serum levels of ACs were determined with the AbsoluteIDQ p180 kit (BIOCRATES Life Sciences AG, Innsbruck, Austria) using the flow injection analysis tandem mass spectrometry ([FIA]–MS/MS) as well as liquid chromatography ([LC]–MS/MS) technique. Identification and quantification of the metabolites was achieved using multiple reactions monitoring along with internal standards. The comparison of ACs in antipsychotic-naïve first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients (N = 38) and control subjects (CSs, N = 37) revealed significantly increased levels of long-chain ACs (LCACs) C14:1 (p = 0.0001), C16 (p = 0.00002), and C18:1 (p = 0.000001) in the patient group. These changes of LCACs were associated with augmented levels of CARN palmitoyltransferase 1 (CPT-1) (p = 0.006). By contrast, the level of short-chain AC (SCAC) C3 was significantly reduced (p = 0.00003) in FEP patients. Seven months of antipsychotic drug treatment ameliorated clinical symptoms in patients (N = 36) but increased significantly their body mass index (BMI, p = 0.001). These changes were accompanied by significantly reduced levels of C18:1 (p = 0.00003) and C18:2 (p = 0.0008) as well as increased level of C3 (p = 0.01). General linear model revealed the relation of LCACs (C16, C16:1, and C18:1) to the inflammatory markers (epidermal growth factor, IL-2, IL-4, IL-6), whereas SCAC C3 was linked to the metabolic markers (leptin, C-peptide) and BMI. FEP was associated with an imbalance of ACs in patients because the levels of several LCACs were significantly higher and the levels of several SCACs were significantly reduced compared with CSs. This imbalance was modified by 7 months of antipsychotic drug treatment, reversing the levels of both LCACs and SCACs to that established for CSs. This study supports the view that ACs have an impact on both inflammatory and metabolic alterations inherent for FEP.