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Can We Determine High Risk Groups in Schizophrenia? A Hypothesis

Bülent Demirbek, Osman Özdemir.

Neurodevelopmental hypothesis suggested that schizophrenia is a disorder of early brain development, in which the brain structural abnormalities are present. The causes of the abnormal processes remains unclear however, Genetics vulnerability, obstetric complications and viral infections have been shown to play a role in this disorder. Several studies have shown a greater incidence of winter or spring births in patients. Prenatal and perinatal infections, especially in the second trimester of pregnancy, have been considered a plausible risk factor for schizophrenia. Maternal exposure to influenza, herpes viruses, varicella zoster virus, Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus and rarely rubella virus infections confers an increased risk of schizophrenia to the developing offspring. As clinicians, we observed that our patients with psychotic disorder were not exposed to the viral infections even during epidemic. We hypothesized that perinatal viral infections have been associated with lifelong immunity to this infectious diseases which on the other hand cause an increased risk of developing schizophrenia. If we could determine antibodies against these viruses among patients with schizophrenia, perhaps we will be able to identify accurate markers heralding psychotic illness as well as can use these markers in a large population-based sample.

Key words: Schizophrenia, viral infections, biological marker

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