Developmental Neuroimmune Mechanisms in Schizophrenia
The exploration of possible immune mechanisms in schizophrenia is a long-standing area of research that continues to attract attention from basic researchers and clinicians alike. Within this neuroimmune framework, a great deal of interest has been centered upon the possible contribution of infections in prenatal life. The antenatal period is highly sensitive to damaging effects induced by environmental insults such as infections, and therefore considerable efforts have been made to delineate the role of prenatal infection and downstream neuroimmune mechanisms in the development of schizophrenia and related disorders. This chapter integrates the findings from human epidemiological studies and translational animal models that support a crucial role of the immune system in brain development and discusses their relevance to etiopathological models of schizophrenia. It further highlights that developmental neuroimmune mechanisms may represent valuable targets to attenuate or even prevent the emergence of brain and behavioral pathology associated with schizophrenic disease.