de Witte LD, van Mierlo HC, Litjens M, Klein HC, Bahn S, Osterhaus AD,
NPJ Schizophr 2015;1:15041
BACKGROUND: Exposure to neurotropic pathogens has been proposed as an environmental risk factor for schizophrenia and can be evaluated by measuring pathogen-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG). Seroprevalence of pathogen-specific IgG reflects prior exposure, whereas IgG levels are associated with reactivity or reinfection. Several studies have examined these parameters in schizophrenia. However, results still remain inconclusive, as several previous studies did not correct for important confounding factors.
AIMS: To investigate whether schizophrenia is associated with prior exposure to neurotropic pathogens, or with their reactivation.
METHODS: We examined the seroprevalence and titer of IgG antibodies against herpes simplex virus-1 and -2 (HSV-1/HSV-2), varicella zoster virus (VZV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), and Toxoplasma gondii (TG) in plasma of 368 adult patients with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder and 282 controls using ELISA.
RESULTS: We did not find evidence for an increased exposure to HSV-1, HSV-2, EBV, and TG in patients. There was a significantly higher seroprevalence of VZV (98.9% vs. 95.6%, P<0.05) and CMV (40.4% vs. 27.7%, P<0.001) in controls as compared with patients, which did not remain statistically significant after adjustment for various potential confounders. We did not find significant differences in antibody titers of seropositive patients and controls for any of the six pathogens.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results do not support the hypothesis that increased exposure to neurotropic pathogens after birth is associated with schizophrenia.