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Infections Linked to Schizophrenia

Immune System Linked to SchizophreniaSwedish researchers have developed a technique that analyzes inflammatory substances in cerebrospinal fluid — the liquid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

Using this method they discovered patients with recent-onset schizophrenia have higher levels of inflammatory substances in their brains.

Although the cause of schizophrenia is unknown, this new finding may give support to the theory that infections early in life might increase the risk of developing schizophrenia.

Furthermore, the discovery improves the potential to treat schizophrenia with drugs that affect the immune system.

The new analysis technique assesses inflammatory substances in the spinal fluid of patients with schizophrenia, instead of, as in previous studies, in the blood.

The results show that patients with recent-onset schizophrenia have raised levels of a signal substance called interleukin-1beta, which can be released in the presence of inflammation. In the healthy control patients, this substance was barely measurable.

“This suggests that the brain’s immune defense system is activated in schizophrenia,” says Professor Göran Engberg, who led the study. “It now remains to be seen whether there is an underlying infection or whether the immune system is triggered by some other means.”

According to the dominant hypothesis, schizophrenia is related to an overactive dopamine system. Previous studies have shown that interleukin-1beta can upset the dopamine system in rats in a similar way to schizophrenia in humans.

“We would have made terrific progress if we were one day able to treat schizophrenia patients with immunotherapy, as it might then be possible to interrupt the course of the disease at an early stage of its development,” says Professor Engberg.

The group is now studying if the inflammatory process is only activated in connection with the development of schizophrenia, or whether chronic patients exhibit the same phenomenon.

Source: Karolinska Institutet

Infections Linked to Schizophrenia

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Infections Linked to Schizophrenia. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 23, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/11/20/infections-linked-to-schizophrenia/9685.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.