Understanding the etiology and treatment approaches in schizophrenia is challenged in part by the heterogeneity of this disorder. One encouraging progress is the growing evidence that there are subtypes of schizophrenia. Recent in vitro findings of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) gene expression on postmortem dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) showed that schizophrenia has two subtypes, those with a relatively normal DLPFC transcriptome (Type 1) and those with differentially expressed genes (Type 2). Sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor-1 (S1PR1) is one of the genes that was highly upregulated in Type 2 compared to Type 1 and controls. The impact of that finding is limited because it only can be confirmed through analysis of autopsy tissue, and the clinical characteristics such as symptoms severity or illness duration except for cause of death was not available from that Medical Examiner based autopsy study. However, S1PR1 has great potential because it is a target gene that can be accessed via positron emission tomography (PET) in vivo using specific radioligands (starting with [11C]CS1P1) successfully developed at our center in human brain imaging. As a preliminary study to validate this PET target in schizophrenia, S1PR1 protein expression was assessed by receptor autoradiography (ARG) using [3H]CS1P1 and immunohistochemistry (IHC) in the DLPFC from patients with schizophrenia classified as Type 1 or Type 2 based on their DLPFC transcriptomes and from controls. Our analyses demonstrate that ARG S1PR1 protein expression is significantly higher in Type 2 compared to Type 1 (p < 0.05) and controls (p < 0.05), which was consistent with previous mRNA S1PR1. These findings support the possibility that PET S1PR1 can be used as a future imaging biomarker to distinguish these subgroups of schizophrenic patients during life with obvious implications for both patient management and the design of clinical trials to validate novel pharmacologic therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number827981
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
StatePublished - Mar 8 2022


  • autoradiography
  • molecular imaging
  • neuroimaging
  • postmortem brain tissues
  • schizophrenia
  • sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor-1 (S1PR1)


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