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Immunol Cell Biol. 2005 Feb;83(1):9-17.

Immune dysregulation and self-reactivity in schizophrenia: do some cases of schizophrenia have an autoimmune basis?

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Neuroimmunology Research Centre, School of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


Schizophrenia affects 1% of the world's population, but its cause remains obscure. Numerous theories have been proposed regarding the cause of schizophrenia, ranging from developmental or neurodegenerative processes or neurotransmitter abnormalities to infectious or autoimmune processes. In this review, findings suggestive of immune dysregulation and reactivity to self in patients with schizophrenia are examined with reference to criteria for defining whether or not a human disease is autoimmune in origin. Associations with other autoimmune diseases and particular MHC haplotypes, increased serum levels of autoantibodies, and in vivo and in vitro replication of some of the functional and ultrastructural abnormalities of schizophrenia by transfer of autoantibodies from the sera of patients with schizophrenia suggest that, in some patients at least, autoimmune mechanisms could play a role in the development of disease. Recent findings regarding specific autoimmune responses directed against neurotransmitter receptors in the brain in patients with schizophrenia will also be reviewed.

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