Positive associations between inflammatory biomarkers and risk of psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, have been reported in observational studies. However, conventional observational studies are prone to bias, such as reverse causation and residual confounding, thus limiting our understanding of the effect (if any) of inflammatory biomarkers on schizophrenia risk.Objective
To evaluate whether inflammatory biomarkers have an effect on the risk of developing schizophrenia.Design, Setting, and Participants
Two-sample mendelian randomization study using genetic variants associated with inflammatory biomarkers as instrumental variables to improve inference. Summary association results from large consortia of candidate gene or genome-wide association studies, including several epidemiologic studies with different designs, were used. Gene-inflammatory biomarker associations were estimated in pooled samples ranging from 1645 to more than 80 000 individuals, while gene-schizophrenia associations were estimated in more than 30 000 cases and more than 45 000 ancestry-matched controls. In most studies included in the consortia, participants were of European ancestry, and the prevalence of men was approximately 50%. All studies were conducted in adults, with a wide age range (18 to 80 years).Exposures
Genetically elevated circulating levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), and soluble interleukin-6 receptor (sIL-6R).Main Outcomes and Measures
Risk of developing schizophrenia. Individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorders were included as cases. Given that many studies contributed to the analyses, different diagnostic procedures were used.Results
The pooled odds ratio estimate using 18 CRP genetic instruments was 0.90 (random effects 95% CI, 0.84-0.97; P = .005) per 2-fold increment in CRP levels; consistent results were obtained using different mendelian randomization methods and a more conservative set of instruments. The odds ratio for sIL-6R was 1.06 (95% CI, 1.01-1.12; P = .02) per 2-fold increment. Estimates for IL-1Ra were inconsistent among instruments, and pooled estimates were imprecise and centered on the null.Conclusions and Relevance
Under mendelian randomization assumptions, our findings suggest a protective effect of CRP and a risk-increasing effect of sIL-6R (potentially mediated at least in part by CRP) on schizophrenia risk. It is possible that such effects are a result of increased susceptibility to early life infection.