Cytomegalovirus and schizophrenia


CNS Drugs 20(11):879-885

Torrey EF, Leweke MF, Schwarz MJ, Mueller N, Bachmann S, Schroeder J, Dickerson F, Yolken RH

The Stanley Medical Research Institute and Uniformed Services University of the Health Services, Bethesda, MD 20814-2142. [email protected]


Several lines of evidence suggest that cytomegalovirus (CMV) may play an aetiological role in schizophrenia. Epidemiologically, both have a worldwide distribution and an increased prevalence in lower socioeconomic groups. Studies have reported that some patients experiencing initial episodes of schizophrenia have increased levels of IgG antibodies against CMV, but not other herpes viruses, in their sera and CSF. Treatment with antipsychotic medications may results in decease in CMV antibodies, while treatment with anti-herpes virus and anti-inflammatory medications may reduce symptoms in some individuals with schizophrenia. There is also some overlap in the genes that are thought to operate in CMV infections and schizophrenia. The strongest argument against the role of CMV in schizophrenia is the absence of the traditional CMV neuropathological changes in the brains of individuals with schizophrenia; however, neuropathological studies of CMV have mostly been conducted in immune-compromised individuals. Further studies on CMV and schizophrenia are needed and may lead to improved treatments for schizophrenia.