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What Is the Role of Immune Dysfunction in Schizophrenia? VA Researchers Seek to Find Out
Common Etiological Factors for Schizophrenia and BPD
Fully understanding the role of cytokines extends beyond explaining the etiology of schizophrenia. High levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines also are associated with bipolar disorder (BPD). Dimitrov and colleagues observed that overlap in “distinct gene expression patterns have been found in the monocytes of patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.” An analysis of the molecules that lead to inflammation might enable researchers to identify unique disease signatures and increase understanding of the development of both disorders.
The authors postulate that, “dysregulation of a particular set of cytokines may lead to schizophrenia, while another set may lead to depression or bipolar disorder.” Both could potentially be improved by targeted adjunctive anti-inflammatory therapy.
A study published in July in the Archives of General Psychiatry supports common etiological factors for schizophrenia and BPD, as well as autism spectrum disorders. Looking at population registers in Sweden and Israel, researchers found that the presence of schizophrenia or BPD in first-degree relatives was a consistent and significant risk factor for autism spectrum disorders — and the findings also were consistent with a similar study in Denmark.1
For Dimitrov, the likelihood of a common etiology for the disorders makes his quest even more compelling. “Can we find a different constellation of cytokines associated with schizophrenia than with BPD?” asked Dimitrov. “That is the challenge. Will there be just one signature for schizophrenia — or are there multiple diseases, several schizophrenias?”
- Sullivan PF, Magnusson C, Reichenberg A, Boman M, Dalman C, Davidson M,
Fruchter E, Hultman CM, Lundberg M, Långström N, Weiser M, Svensson AC,
Lichtenstein P. Family History of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder as Risk
Factors for Autism Family History of Psychosis as Risk Factor for ASD. Arch Gen Psychiatry.
2012 Jul 2:1-5. doi: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2012.730. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed
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