OF RETROVIRAL RNA IN THE CSF OF INDIVIDUALS WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA
F. Leister, J Schroder, S. Bachmann, E.F. Torrey and R.H. Yolken
Division of Developmental Neurovirology, Johns Hopkins University
School of Medicine, 600 N. Wolfe St./Blalock 1111, Baltimore, MD
We have explored the hypothesis
of retroviral involvement in the etiology of schizophrenia by
testing 18 CSFs obtained from first-episode individuals
with schizophrenia-spectrum disorder and 18 CSFs from
individuals without psychiatric disease.
RNAs were isolated from
pelleted CSFs, reverse transcribed, and subjected to PCR
using primers directed towards a conserved region of the
retroviral pol-gene (Tuke et al, Acta Neurol. Scand. 1997.
A PCR-product was detected in
seven of the 18 schizophrenia samples and in three of the 18
control samples. Subsequent cloning and sequencing of these
products showed that at least six samples from the individuals
with schizophrenia contained a single retroviral species, showing
90-95% homology to the multiple sclerosis associated retrovirus
(Perron et al, PNAS 1997. 94:7583-7588). Individual control
samples were found to contain multiple species, homologous to
human endogenous retroviral sequences (including multiple
sclerosis associated retrovirus), probably originating from
contaminating human nucleic acids.
These results document the
presence of specific retroviral particles in the CSF of acutely
ill individuals with schizophrenia. The retroviral particles may
have arisen from the differential activation of endogenous
sequences or may be the result of exogenous retroviral infection.