Interleukin 6 predicts increased neural response during face processing in a sample of individuals with schizophrenia and healthy participants: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study

David Mothersill, Sinead King, Laurena Holleran, Maria Dauvermann, Saahithh Patlola, Karolina I. Rokita, Ross McManus, Marcus Kenyon, Colm McDonald, Brian Hallahan, Aiden Corvin, Derek W. Morris, John Kelly, Declan McKernan, Gary Donohoe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Deficits in facial emotion recognition are a core feature of schizophrenia and predictive of functional outcome. Higher plasma levels of the cytokine interleukin 6 (IL-6) have recently been associated with poorer facial emotion recognition in individuals with schizophrenia and healthy participants, but the neural mechanisms affected remain poorly understood.

Methods: Forty-nine individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and 158 healthy participants were imaged using functional magnetic resonance imaging during a dynamic facial emotion recognition task. Plasma IL-6 was measured from blood samples taken outside the scanner. Multiple regression was used in statistical parametric mapping software to test whether higher plasma IL-6 predicted increased neural response during task performance.

Results: Higher plasma IL-6 predicted increased bilateral medial prefrontal response during neutral face processing compared to angry face processing in the total sample (N = 207, tmax = 5.67) and increased left insula response during angry face processing compared to neutral face processing (N = 207, tmax = 4.40) (p < 0.05, family-wise error corrected across the whole brain at the cluster level).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that higher peripheral IL-6 levels predict altered neural response within brain regions involved in social cognition and emotion during facial emotion recognition. This is consistent with recent neuroimaging research on IL-6 and suggesting a possible neural mechanism by which this cytokine might affect facial emotion recognition accuracy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Volume32
Issue number102851
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2021

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