Schizophrenia and neurogenesis: A stem cell approach

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Abstract

Several recent research findings indicate that schizophrenia (SCZ) may begin with an abnormal neuro-genesis from embryonic Neural Stem Cells (NSCs) and that this process may be particularly vulnerable to a number of genetic and/or environmental disturbances of early brain development. Since it is now well known that neurogenesis is not confined to the womb, but is a protracted process continuing in postnatal life well into adolescence and beyond, and since in the majority of subjects diagnosed with SCZ the first psychotic break occurs in late adolescence or early adulthood, the aim of our paper is to summarize the main findings supporting a possible link between changes in developmental postnatal neurogenesis and SCZ, with a specific focus on the critical period of adolescence and associated environmental risk factors. Establishing a significant role of adult neurogenesis in the emergence of psychosis will help us not only to better understand the pathogenesis of this neuopsychiatric disorder, but also to provide the key to potential strategies toward possible treatments and/or early corrective interventions.

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