Inflammation in Schizophrenia: Pathogenetic Aspects and Therapeutic Considerations

Norbert Müller


Schizophr Bull. 2018;44(5):973-982. 

In This Article

Inflammation and Volume Loss in the CNS—Findings From Imaging Studies

Neuroimaging and neuropathological studies have not found large inflammatory changes in schizophrenia. However, they have shown reductions in CNS volume in first-episode schizophrenia and progressive loss in the course of the disease.[93–96] One study found that the volume loss in schizophrenia is associated with an increased genetic risk for greater production of IL-1β, an immune marker;[97] as mentioned above, maternal IL-8 levels were found to be related to CNS volume.[87]

Neuroinflammation can be measured by PET with ligands for the translocator protein (PK 11195, DAA1106), a receptor that is expressed by activated microglia and upregulated in inflammation. Radiolabeled PK11195 can therefore be used in PET to estimate microglial activation in the CNS.[98] Studies have found greater binding of PK11195 in schizophrenia, indicating neuroinflammation.[99,100] In addition, another study found that positive symptoms of schizophrenia correlated with expression of the PET-activation marker DAA1106 and that duration of the disease correlated with expression of the microglial activation marker DAA1106.[101] It has to be mentioned, however, that the results of PET studies in schizophrenia are inconsistent,[102] as is the interpretation of the data.[103] The stage of schizophrenia (eg, first episode vs chronic), medication, and additional interfering variables may also play a role in the conflicting results.