Schizophrenia may be an inflammatory condition

The causes of schizophrenia are largely unknown, and this hinders the development of effective treatments. One theory is that infections caught early on in life might increase the risk of developing schizophrenia, but to date any direct evidence of this has not been forthcoming.

Professor Göran Engberg and colleageus at Karolinska Institutet ibn Sweden have now been able to analyse 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 – which suggests that the brain’s immune defence system may be activated in schizophrenia.

In the healthy control patients, this substance was barely measurable.

It remains to be seen whether the immune system is triggered by an underlying infection or some other means. The group is now studying whether the inflammatory process is only activated in connection with the development of schizophrenia, or whether chronic patients exhibit the same phenomenon.

For a fuller report


Click here for more research reports


First Published in Novemver 2009

Top of page