Psychiatric disorders are potentially related to immune system irregularities. A research team at King's College London have conducted a massive meta-analysis confirming that people with autoimmune disorders are consistently more likely to develop psychotic disorders.A recent large scale observational study followed over 1 million subjects for 30 years and found a striking correlation between stress-related disorders such as PTSD and autoimmune diseases. The new study from King's College took a broader approach and gathered data from 31 previously published studies ultimately including over 25 million individuals in order to understand the correlation between non-neurological autoimmune disorders, such as psoriasis or celiac disease, and the prevalence of psychosis or schizophrenia. (Haridy, 2018)
"Our study shows that overall, people with any autoimmune disorder are around 40 percent more likely to develop psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, the finding that psychosis is associated with non-neurological autoimmune disorders, which are not known to directly target the brain, is particularly important." said leading researcher Alexis Cullen.
Out of the 37 non-neurological autoimmune disorders tracked in the study pernicious anaemia, pemphigoid and psoriasis were among the most significantly correlated with psychosis. The study also found that two autoimmune disorders displayed notable negative associations with psychosis - ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis. (Haridy, 2018)
There are a variety of factors that could be associated with this correlation with inflammation being a highly likely reason. People with psychosis tend to show higher levels of inflammatory markers than healthy individuals and inflammation is a core factor of autoimmune disorders. Other factors may include shared genes, autoantibodies targeting brain proteins and infectious agents.
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Although there are limitations to being able to make a definitive conclusion in an observational study and still unclear which mechanism is causing this connection but the study does suggest that closer monitoring for early signs of psychosis is patients suffering from specific autoimmune disease is necessary.
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