Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2023 Mar 4. doi: 10.1007/s00406-023-01572-3. Online ahead of print.
Vitamin deficiency syndromes and blood-brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction are frequent phenomena in psychiatric conditions. We analysed the largest available first-episode schizophrenia-spectrum psychosis (FEP) cohort to date regarding routine cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood parameters to investigate the association between vitamin deficiencies (vitamin B12 and folate) and BBB impairments in FEP. We report a retrospective analysis of clinical data from all inpatients that were admitted to our tertiary care hospital with an ICD-10 diagnosis of a first-episode F2x (schizophrenia-spectrum) between January 1, 2008 and August 1, 2018 and underwent a lumbar puncture, blood-based vitamin status diagnostics and neuroimaging within the clinical routine. 222 FEP patients were included in our analyses. We report an increased CSF/serum albumin quotient (Qalb) as a sign of BBB dysfunction in 17.1% (38/222) of patients. White matter lesions (WML) were present in 29.3% of patients (62/212). 17.6% of patients (39/222) showed either decreased vitamin B12 levels or decreased folate levels. No statistically significant association was found between vitamin deficiencies and altered Qalb. This retrospective analysis contributes to the discussion on the impact of vitamin deficiency syndromes in FEP. Although decreased vitamin B12 or folate levels were found in approximately 17% of our cohort, we found no evidence for significant associations between BBB dysfunction and vitamin deficiencies. To strengthen the evidence regarding the clinical implications of vitamin deficiencies in FEP, prospective studies with standardized measurements of vitamin levels together with follow-up measurements and assessment of symptom severity in addition to CSF diagnostics are needed.