J Nerv Ment Dis 2015 May;203(5):393-9
Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Molecular profiling studies have helped increase the understanding of the immune processes thought to be involved in the etiology and pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. Current therapeutic interventions with first- and second-generation antipsychotics are suboptimal. Poor response rates and debilitating side effects often lead to poor treatment compliance. This highlights the pressing need to identify more effective treatments as well as objective biomarker based tests, which can help predict treatment response and identify diagnostic subpopulations. Such tests could enable early detection of patients who will benefit from particular therapeutic interventions. In this review, we discuss studies relating to dysfunctions of the immune system in patients with schizophrenia and the effects of antipsychotic medication on the molecular components of these systems. Immune system dysfunction may in part be related to genetic risk factors for schizophrenia, but there is substantial evidence that a wide range of environmental factors ranging from exposure to infectious agents such as influenza and Toxoplasma gondii to HPA axis dysfunction play an important role in the etiopathogenesis of schizophrenia. Ongoing research efforts, testing therapeutic efficacy of anti-inflammatory agents used as add-on medications are also discussed. From a therapeutic perspective, these represent the initial steps toward novel treatment approaches and more effective patient care in the field of mental health.