Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Schizoprhenia and a suspicious retrovirus

Researchers have long looked for an infectious cause of schizophrenia, especially because of a relationship between a child's birth month and the later development of schizophrenia. The focus though has been on a maternal infection.

Now there is interest in an endogenous retrovirus as a contributing factor in the development of schizophrenia. This virus is present in the DNA of most of us, though there might be secondary infections triggers that would activate a quiescent retrovirus. It's quite speculative, but noteworthy.

Naturally everyone who wasn't already looking for an endogenous retrovirus in autism will redouble their efforts.

As always, there's a large caveat about this type of research. Autism and schizophrenia are labels we place on a variety of cognitive disorders that likely have diverse causes, courses, and therapies. Even if this early work bears fruit, not all of what we currently label "schizophrenia" will be related to a retroviral infection.

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