Schizophrenia and the immune system

Jonathan Jacobs jxj24 at po.CWRU.Edu
Fri Jan 22 23:52:03 EST 1993


In a previous article, mitchm at casbah.acns.nwu.edu (Mitchell Maltenfort) says:

>
>	I was recently watching a PBS "Frontline" on schizophrenia, and was
>struck by an idea when it was mentioned that schizophrenics have certain
>white blood cell abnormalities.  Is it possible that schizophrenia is an
>autoimmune disease?
>
>	There is some precedent for this: myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune
>disease in which the immune system targets the neurotransmitters that activate
>muscle.  Might schizophrenia be the result of the immune system interfering
>with the brain functions? 
>
>	Although I have some basic knowledge of the nervous system, I don't
>know as much about the specific condition of schizophrenia or the immune
>system as I should to be able to evaluate this possibility.  I'm just posting
>it to get some discussion going.  
>
>
>Mitchell Maltenfort	Northwestern Unversity	Chicago, Illinois
>
>mgm at nwu.edu		|:* Studying simulations or simulating studies *:|
>
>
Mitchell,

Not to be pedantic, but in myasthenia gravis the _receptors_ for the 
neurotransmitter (acetylcholine) are attacked by the immune system, not
the neurotransmitter itself.

But it is an interesting question alright.  It certainly seems plausible
enough, and god knows that there are about a zillion ways your immune
system can turn on you when you least expect it.  And there are about
a zillion more ways that your brain can unravel on you when you least 
realize it.  Actually, that sounds very depressing when I reread it, but
it's absolutely fantastic how something so complex as an entire organism
can actually exist.  Even when it doesn't work quite right.

Just remember: "It's not how well the bear dances, but that it dances at all."

Jon Jacobs
Dept. of Biomedical Engineerin' and stuff
Case Western Reserve University
Accept no substitutes.



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