PhenoChipping of psychotic disorders: A novel approach for deconstructing and quantitating psychiatric phenotypes


  • Please cite this article as follows: Niculescu AB, Lulow LL, Ogden CA, Le-Niculescu H, Salomon DR, Schork NJ, Caligiuri MP, Lohr JB. 2006. PhenoChipping of Psychotic Disorders: A Novel Approach for Deconstructing And Quantitating Psychiatric Phenotypes. Am J Med Genet Part B 141B:653–662.


Psychiatric phenotypes as currently defined are primarily the result of clinical consensus criteria rather than empirical research. We propose, and present initial proof of principle for, a novel approach to characterizing psychiatric phenotypes. We have termed our approach PhenoChipping, by analogy with, and borrowing paradigms and tools from, gene expression microarray studies (GeneChipping). A massive parallel profiling of cognitive and affective state is done with a PhenoChip composed of a battery of existing and new quantitative psychiatric rating scales, as well as hand neuromotor measures. We present preliminary data from 104 subjects, 72 with psychotic disorders (bipolar disorder—41, schizophrenia—17, schizoaffective disorder—14), and 32 normal controls. Microarray data analysis software and visualization tools were used to investigate: 1. relationships between phenotypic items (“phenes”), including with objective motor measures, and 2. relationships between subjects. Our analyses revealed phenotypic overlap among, as well as phenotypic heterogeneity within, the three major psychotic disorders studied. This approach may be useful in helping us move beyond current diagnostic classifications, and suggests a combinatorial building-block (Lego-like) structure underlies psychiatric syndromes. The adaptation of microarray informatic tools for phenotypic analysis readily facilitates direct integration with gene expression profiling of lymphocytes in the same individuals, a strategy for molecular biomarker identification. Empirically derived clusterings of (endo)phenotypes and of patients will better serve genetic, pharmacological, and imaging research, as well as clinical practice. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.