Researcher participates in identifying a possible biological marker of schizophrenia

The identification of these biomarkers helps develop simple and rapid tests that indicate the trend of onset of the disorder, without having been presented symptoms. Graduate in psychology, natural young Bollullos del Condado, now carried his doctoral thesis at the University of Sevilla.

According to the Center for Biomedical Research in Mental Health Network (Cibersam) Schizophrenia affects 400,000 people in Spain, one of the most severe mental disorders on which an immense lack of information in much of society still persists .

The early diagnosis of this disease, as in most, becomes based l. In this line, the research takes a very important role in all what the diagnosis and treatment is concerned.

Recently researchers from the Laboratory of Animal Behavior and Neuroscience at the Faculty of the University of Seville and the Institute of Biomedicine of Seville (IBIS) have published a study in the leading journal in the field of psychiatry ‘Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, where they explain there identified a potential biological marker in the schizophrenic disorder . Among researchers is the young bollullero Juan Carlos Ruiz Salas .

Graduated in Psychology at the University of Seville (2009-2013), Juan Carlos Ruiz Salas attended the Master in Advanced Studies in Brain and Behavior (2014-2016) concluded with honors his Master’s Thesis, which was entitled ‘ analysis of cleavages in affective learning in humans’. Huelva currently working on her doctoral thesis under the direction of Dr. Estrella Diaz Argandoña, Vice Dean of Research at the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Sevilla.

On the other hand, as explained Huelva Good News , between the months of April to July 2016, Juan Carlos Ruiz Salas made a research stay at the Center for Psychiatry and Neuroscience Center Hospitalier Sainte-Anne in Paris , under the address the prestigious psychiatrist Marie-Odile Krebs, in collaboration with Descartes University and the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Paris.

Meanwhile, Juan Carlos Ruiz is immersed in research l project ‘Associative modulation of dopaminergic activity’ , funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and directed by Dr. Gonzalo de la Rivas House at the Laboratory of Animal Behavior and Neuroscience Faculty of Psychology (US) in collaboration with the Institute of Biomedicine of Seville (IBIS) and the area Psychiatric Hospital Virgen del Rocio.

Huelva Good News has spoken with onubense researcher in relation to the recently published study.

– What objective marcasteis when you conduct research?
– The initial idea was to check for a possible biomarker of psychotic disorder . A biomarker is a biological characteristic present in people who are likely to have a given disease, even when not present the symptoms of the disease. The identification of these biomarkers helps us to develop simple and rapid tests indicating the possible propensity for occurrence of the disorder, but does not indicate that the disease will necessarily develop.

What were your main findings?
We have found that natural startle response to a loud noise that has been preceded by one of lower intensity is altered in people with schizophrenia. Actually this was already known, but the novelty of the research is that we have registered the startle reflex at two different times for patients who participated in the study: soon after hospital admission, when symptoms were evident, and three months after discharge, when the symptoms had subsided. We have observed that altering the reflection occurs in both periods and that is precisely one of the most important criteria of a biomarker, though not his presence manifest the disease symptomatically.

And exactly what is the relevance of being able to identify this potential biological marker?
-The identification of biomarkers of a particular disorder has become today a very promising area of health sciences. Particularly in the field of psychiatry and psychology, which have traditionally been diagnosed patients based on the presence or absence of certain symptoms, at present it tends to complement the diagnosis with this type of psychophysiological indicators. These types of records are important when we study populations risk of certain diseases, because they can help us predict the existence of certain disorders. Right now we’re focused on analyzing whether, as in schizophrenia, this biomarker is present in other psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorder .

We are also analyzing the effect of different drugs on the standardization of processes studied in patients. Specifically, it is animal experiments in which, based on models that simulate the symptoms of schizophrenia, analyze the regulatory effect of different drugs on the phenomenon of prepulse inhibition.

What methodology became imitators?
To study the intensity of muscle response responsible flicker through electrodes placed near one eye while different sounds that startle responses are presented was recorded. These responses result in muscle contraction which serves the body to face a possible danger. The intense sound makes us immediately put voltage (alert response), which facilitates the flight or confrontation to potentially hazardous situation. This response can modify the alert in the laboratory just before presenting rich sound a weaker sound. Although perceptually, in most cases, we are not aware that we have heard two sounds but only one, we know that our brain processes both signals. When you receive the first sound less intense and begins to process a temporary blockage in the nervous system that prevents the entry of any other stimulus until it has not fully analyzed the meaning of the above occurs. Because of this impasse, the intense sound is not perceived in all its intensity and alert response before it is much less than when presented alone. This locking process, we call technically ‘Inhibition prepulse’, does not last long as it extends to approximately 100 milliseconds after the presentation of weak stimulus, and appears to be the basis of a clean and correct perception of everything around us .

On a personal level, what are your aspirations?
My career aspirations revolve in two ways: research and teaching. It is true that, although currently the situation in our country augurs a promising future to which we are dedicated to the world of research, daily try, with my colleagues, fit me in this exciting field and power, someday , act as a teacher and researcher at the University.

Thank you very much. 



Reduced Prepulse Inhibition as a Biomarker of Schizophrenia. Auxiliadora Mena, Juan C. Ruiz-Salas, Andrea Puentes, Inmaculada Dora, Miguel Ruiz-Veguilla y L. Gonzalo de la Casa. Frontiers in BehavioralNeuroscience. DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00202


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