Schizophrenics Found to Have Overactive Brain Immune Systems

By Gary Cutlack on at

Men scanning the brains of people diagnosed with schizophrenia and under risk of developing the symptoms claim to have made a breakthrough that could help treat the problem, reporting that those suffering from schizophrenia have brain immune systems that are doing way too much work.

Scans of the brains of those diagnosed with schizophrenia were taken after the patients had been filled with a chemical dye that sticks to the microglia that work as the brain's immune system. The results showed much higher activity in the immune systems of those with schizophrenia, seemingly confirming modern thinking that such illnesses may be triggered by a treatable inflammation rather than any underlying physical cause.

As well as showing a higher level of activity in the brains of those with schizophrenia the tests also reveal elevated immune activity levels in people thought to be at risk, with Dr Oliver Howes from the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre telling the BBC: "This is a real step forward in understanding. For the first time we have evidence that there is over-activity even before full onset of the illness. If we could reduce activity then we might be able to prevent the illness - that needs to be tested, but is one key implication." [BBC]