Immuno-Genetic, Inflammation, Retro-Virus, Environment (I-Give)

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  • sponsor
    Pr. Marion Leboyer
Updated on 4 October 2022
bipolar disorder
psychiatric disorder
Accepts healthy volunteers


Immunology combined to neurobiology now offer prominent tools to yield biomarkers, so far missing in psychiatry, and to design innovative treatment approaches based on the discovery of new molecular and cellular targets. As Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia are now known to be significantly associated with neuro-inflammation, the project I-GIVE will combine multidisciplinary approaches (clinical, viral, immunological, genetic) to explore a global hypothesis placing the Human Endogenous Retro-Virus, HERV-W, at the crossroads between susceptibility to environmental factors (such as winter-spring births, infections, urbanicity…) and genetic factors controlling immune responses.

Thus I-GIVE will allow identification of new biomarkers and their correlation with clinical profiles and immuno-inflammatory/immuno-genetic markers, and description of patho-physiological mechanisms of a psychiatric disorder. In addition, I-GIVE should help to design innovative treatments and foster personalized psychiatry tailored to the needs of each patient. Notably, monoclonal antibodies anti-HERV-W Env will be assessed in a preclinical model for their ability to slow, stop, or even reverse the progression of the psychosis in patients. I-GIVE project should thus lead to major results that will have strong impacts on the scientific community, pharmaceutical industries and, in a longer term, on improvement of patients suffering Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia and their family.


The investigators and others have been able to demonstrate that HERV-W envelope gene (Env) encodes a pro-inflammatory and neurotoxic protein after reactivation by environmental factors. In this context, the investigators have reported preliminary data showing an association between Human Endogenous Retroviruses type "W" family (HERV-W) and major psychotic disorder, bipolar disorder (BD) and schizophrenia (SZ) : In 2008, the investigators reported for the first time, the presence of ENV protein in the serum of 50 % of SZ patients associated with a chronic inflammatory status reflected by elevated serum level of C-Reactive Protein (CRP). The investigators have been able to confirm this finding and extend it to BD and showed an elevation of HERV-W RNA transcripts both in BD and SZ as compared to healthy controls. Furthermore, the investigators also observed for the first time that toxoplasma Gondii, known to be able to induce reactivation of HERV-W, is associated with an increased risk to develop BD (OR: 2.3) close to the one previously observed in SZ (OR= 2.17)

The present project I-GIVE aims to extend and refine such findings and to obtain a proof of concept of the involvement of Human Endogenous Retrovirus elements in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. I-GIVE is divided into four complementary scientific tasks:

  1. assessing the systemic HERV-W (ENV and GAG) antigen serum levels and the RNA and DNA copy number variants of stabilized and acutely ill patients,
  2. measuring the systemic associated immuno-inflammatory cascade in BD patients at different stages of the disorder and occurrence of medical comorbidities,
  3. identifying the clinical characteristics of patients according to HERV-W expression and immuno-inflammatory profiles,
  4. exploring the gene (immuno-genetic) x environment interactions that may modulate the immuno-inflammatory response

Clinical and biological data from acute BP and SZ patients will be compared first with themselves at two different times. They will be compared also to healthy control's data, and third to stabilised BP and SZ patients.

Condition Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia
Treatment blood sampling
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT02878408
SponsorPr. Marion Leboyer
Last Modified on4 October 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Bipolar disorder or Schizophrenia (according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV)

Exclusion Criteria

pregnant women
Vaccination within 4 precedent weeks
Severe neurologic illness
Immunosuppressing or immuno-modulating treatment
Infectious disease within 4 precedent weeks (including HIV 1 et 2, Hepatite B, C)
Refuse to have HIV and hepatite B et C tests or to be informed of their results
Clear my responses

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