The Case for Autoimmunity in the Etiology of Schizophrenia

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The treatment of schizophrenia has frustrated clinicians for over 50 years. Despite advances in neurotransmitter identification and the development of drugs targeting these transmitters, total remission of the disease is not always achieved. Potential etiologies other than neurotransmitter dysfunction merit consideration. One intriguing concept is the possible contribution of autoimmunity in patients with the disease. This breakdown of self-tolerance has been implicated in patients with other chronic diseases, such as type 1 diabetes mellitus and myasthenia gravis. The literature on autoimmunity as a possible mechanism in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia can be conflicting, but there is a substantial amount of circumstantial, although not conclusive, evidence of immune dysfunction in patients with schizophrenia.

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