Neurodevelopment Alterations, Neurodegeneration, and Immunoinflammatory Patterns in the Pathophysiology of Schizophrenia

  • Bernardo Dell’Osso
  • Gregorio Spagnolin
  • Neva E. Suardi
  • A. Carlo Altamura


Schizophrenia is a highly disabling syndrome, with frequent onset in the first half of adult life. As for other major psychoses, the etiology of schizophrenia is supposed to involve a gene–environment interaction. In terms of pathophysiology, however, immune alterations have been repeatedly reported in schizophrenic patients, involving both the unspecific and specific pathways of the immune system and suggesting that infectious/autoimmune processes play an important role in the development of the disorder. In such perspective, it seems that schizophrenia may be associated with an imbalance in inflammatory cytokines. Alterations in the inflammatory and immune systems, moreover, seem to be already present in the early stages of schizophrenia, likely connected to specific neurodevelopmental abnormalities, which identify the roots of the disorder during brain development with consequences that do not manifest themselves until adolescence or early adulthood. At the same time, neuropathological studies and longitudinal observation in schizophrenia, showing progressive losses of gray matter in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, also support a neurodegenerative hypothesis, and, more recently, a novel mixed hypothesis, integrating the aforementioned models, has been put forward.


Cytokines Neurodegeneration Neurodevelopmental model Schizophrenia 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernardo Dell’Osso
    • 1
  • Gregorio Spagnolin
    • 1
  • Neva E. Suardi
    • 1
  • A. Carlo Altamura
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Milan, Fondazione IRCCS Cà Granda, Ospedale Maggiore PoliclinicoMilanItaly

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