Antibodies to infectious agents in individuals with recent onset schizophrenia

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Abstract.

We investigated the levels of antibodies to infectious agents in the serum and cerebral spinal fluids (CSFs) of individuals with recent onset schizophrenia and compared these levels to those of controls without psychiatric disease. We found that untreated individuals with recent onset schizophrenia had significantly increased levels of serum and CSF IgG antibody to cytomegalovirus and Toxoplasma gondii as compared to controls. The levels of serum IgM class antibodies to these agents were not increased. Untreated individuals with recent onset schizophrenia also had significantly lower levels of serum antibody to human herpesvirus type 6 and varicella zoster virus as compared to controls. Levels of antibodies to herpes simplex virus type 1, herpes simplex virus type 2, and Epstein Barr virus, and did not differ from cases and controls.

We also found that treatment status had a major effect on the levels of antibodies in this population. Individuals who were receiving treatment had lower levels of antibodies to cytomegalovirus and Toxoplasma gondii, and higher levels of serum antibodies to human herpesvirus type 6 as compared to untreated individuals. The level of antibodies to Toxoplasma and human herpesvirus type 6 measured in treated individuals did not differ from the levels measured in controls. In the case of cytomegalovirus, the levels of CSF antibodies in treated individuals did not differ from those of controls, while the level of serum IgG antibodies to CMV remained slightly greater than controls in this population.

Our studies indicate that untreated individuals with recent onset schizophrenia have altered levels of antibodies to cytomegalovirus, Toxoplasma gondii, and human herpesvirus type 6 while the levels of these antibodies in treated individuals with recent onset schizophrenia are similar to those of controls. These findings indicate that infectious agents may play a role in the etiopathogenesis of some cases of schizophrenia.