Akira Nishi 1 , Shusuke Numata * , 1 , Atsushi Tajima 2 , Makoto Kinoshita 1 , Kumiko Kikuchi 1 , Shinji Shimodera 3 , Masahito Tomotake 4 , Kazutaka Ohi 5 , Ryota Hashimoto 5 , 6 , Issei Imoto 2 , Masatoshi Takeda 5 , Tetsuro Ohmori 1
17 February 2014
Previous studies suggest that elevated blood homocysteine levels and the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase ( MTHFR) C677T polymorphism are risk factors for schizophrenia. However, the effects of gender and MTHFR C677T genotypes on blood homocysteine levels in schizophrenia have not been consistent. We first investigated whether plasma total homocysteine levels were higher in patients with schizophrenia than in controls with stratification by gender and by the MTHFR C677T genotypes in a large cohort ( N = 1379). Second, we conducted a meta-analysis of association studies between blood homocysteine levels and schizophrenia separately by gender ( N = 4714). Third, we performed a case-control association study between the MTHFR C677T polymorphism and schizophrenia ( N = 4998) and conducted a meta-analysis of genetic association studies based on Japanese subjects ( N = 10 378). Finally, we assessed the effect of plasma total homocysteine levels on schizophrenia by a mendelian randomization approach. The ANCOVA after adjustment for age demonstrated a significant effect of diagnosis on the plasma total homocysteine levels in all strata, and the subsequent meta-analysis for gender demonstrated elevated blood homocysteine levels in both male and female patients with schizophrenia although antipsychotic medication might influence the outcome. The meta-analysis of the Japanese genetic association studies demonstrated a significant association between the MTHFR C677T polymorphism and schizophrenia. The mendelian randomization analysis in the Japanese populations yielded an OR of 1.15 for schizophrenia per 1-SD increase in plasma total homocysteine. Our study suggests that increased plasma total homocysteine levels may be associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia.