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Expert Rev Neurother. 2010 Jul;10(7):1131-41. doi: 10.1586/ern.09.152.

Neurodegeneration in schizophrenia.

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University of Gothenburg, Department of Psychology, Box 500, SE-40530, Gothenburg, Sweden.


The neurodegenerative aspect of schizophrenia presupposes gene-environmental interactions involving chromosomal abnormalities and obstetric/perinatal complications that culminate in predispositions that impart a particular vulnerability for drastic and unpredictable precipitating factors, such as stress or chemical agents. The notion of a neurodevelopmental progression to the disease state implies that early developmental insults, with neurodegenerative proclivities, evolve into structural brain abnormalities involving specific regional circuits and neurohumoral agents. This neurophysiological orchestration is expressed in the dysfunctionality observed in premorbid signs and symptoms arising in the eventual diagnosis, as well as the neurobehavioral deficits reported from animal models of the disorder. The relative contributions of perinatal insults, neonatal ventral hippocampus lesion, prenatal methylazoxymethanol acetate and early traumatic experience, as well as epigenetic contributions, are discussed from a neurodegenerative view of the essential neuropathology. It is implied that these considerations of factors that exert disruptive influences upon brain development, or normal aging, operationalize the central hub of developmental neuropathology around which the disease process may gain momentum. Nonetheless, the status of neurodegeneration in schizophrenia is somewhat tenuous and it is possible that brain imaging studies on animal models of the disorder, which may describe progressive alterations to cortical, limbic and ventricular structures similar to those of schizophrenic patients, are necessary to resolve the issue.

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