Schizophrenia and the immune system

Yukiharu Hadeishi YHADEISH at biomed.med.yale.edu
Sat Jan 23 20:08:01 EST 1993


In a previous article, jxj24 at po.CWRU.Edu (Jonathan Jacobs) says that:
> 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?
> ...
>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.

I couldn't agree more.  In fact, there are probably many more ways than a
merely a zillion for the immune system to go wrong--- but my understanding is
that it cannot be a conventional, plain vanilla, lymphocyte-mediated autoimmune
response, if schitzophrenia is an autoimmune-mediated disease.  I may very well
be wrong here, not being directly involved in research in this area, but my
understanding is that there are no post-capillary venules feeding into the
brain, and thus no way for immune cells to penetrate into brain tissue (don't
ask me how microglia do it; maybe they truly are resident monocytes...).  Since
lymphocytes are unable to cross the blood-brain barrier, there is no way
(within the current model, of course...  ;-)  ) for there to be an autoimmune
reaction.

The fact that the brain is an immune-privileged area makes sense, from a
teleological perspective:  since the fine connectivity of the brain is
extremely important, and since most of your brain cells are no longer dividing
for most of your life, one cannot afford to have bloody wars going on in there,
pushing neurons this way and that, or worse, killing off neurons in the heat of
phagocytosis--- it would be a real mess.  We, meaning all life forms advanced
enough to have brains, are better off suffering from the occasional slow brain
virus than going through repeated inflammation responses and who knows what all
causing irreparable damage in the effort to save the brain from minor mishap.

Anyway, that's my understanding of the situation.  Please correct me if I am
wrong, all those who know more than I out there, I beg of you.

  -- yh.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yukiharu "Yuki" Hadeishi   ---   Lurker at Large
Internet:  yhadeish at biomed.med.yale.edu
The Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program will have
absolutely nothing to do with any of my opinions...



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