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Schizophr Bull. 1998;24(1):99-113.

Causes and consequences of the gender difference in age at onset of schizophrenia.

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Schizophrenia Research Unit, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany.


The ABC (age, beginning, course) schizophrenia study was commenced in 1987 to generate and test hypotheses about pathogenic aspects of schizophrenia. One of the main branches of the study focused on how gender influences the age distribution of onset, symptomatology, illness behavior, and early course in schizophrenia. Proceeding from one of the rare, strikingly deviating, consistent findings--the gender difference in age at first admission--we launched a systematic search for explanations by generating and testing hypotheses in a series of substudies. We moved from the epidemiological to the neurobiological and finally to the clinical level. The present article is an attempt to provide a brief overview of the individual stages of the ABC study and the different levels of investigation involved in formulating and testing the estrogen hypothesis in animal experiments and in demonstrating its applicability to human schizophrenia. From these results, three hypotheses were formulated and tested on data from an ABC study sample of 232 first-episode cases of schizophrenia. The analyses described here represent the latest stages of the ABC study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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