Stanley Lab: Interferon Gamma in Schizophrenia–An Overview



Matthias Rothermundt*.

University of Lübeck, Germany

On the search for biological factors that might be

part of the etiology or pathogenesis of schizophrenia several

groups have focused on immunological research. Especially

cytokine research in schizophrenia has yielded increasingly

consistently results. Interferon gamma as one of the most

important antiviral agents of the body has been the subject

of psychoimmunological research of our group during the last


We showed a decreased production of interferon gamma

(IFN-g )

upon mitogen stimulation in acutely psychotic schizophrenic

patients. It remains decreased over a period of 6 weeks

during treatment and psychopathological improvement. Remitted

schizophrenics in a residual state of disease and first

degree relatives of patients suffering from schizophrenia on

the other hand showed no difference in the IFN-g production compared to

matched healthy controls.

The decreased IFN-g production in acute

schizophrenia is unlikely to be caused by an upregulation of

Th2 cytokines or by the influence of the serum cortisol

level. In a recent study we were able to show that the

decreased production of INF-g most probably is not caused by

psychotrophic medication.

The results of several studies are presented and

different hypotheses concerning the role of an

immunodysfunction in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia are


Last revised on 05 July 2000.