November 06, 2007

Another Link Between a Virus and Schizophrenia

A new story discusses the connection between schizophrenia and tick-borne encephalitis or TBE. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm responsible for the discovery of this connection believe that it--the link between TBE and schizophrenia--is a substance known as kynurenic acid.

Tick-borne encephalitis, as its name implies, is a virus spread by ticks and is known to cause inflammation of the brain. In areas like Sweden, where ticks are quite prevalent, TBE is more common than in other parts of the world.

Kynurenic Acid
In the past, scientists believed kynurenic acid to be of little importance to the brain, but more recently, they've recognized it as a possible cause of the symptoms of schizophrenia. Specifically, kynurenic acid causes confusion in the brain, a symptom many people suffering from schizophrenia exhibit.

"Kynurenic acid is usually present in low concentrations in the brain, but levels of the substance rise dramatically in the central nervous systems of people with TBE. The same phenomenon is seen in people with schizophrenia."

Schizophrenia and Viruses
Recently, we've discussed the increased risk of schizophrenia associated with contracting certain viruses during pregnancy (such as the flu). Though the research that demonstrates this is highly important and something to be aware of, it's important to stress that despite the biological components of schizophrenia, the illness, as we've covered and research demonstrates, certainly has controllable psychological aspects too, and is not biologically inevitable. Still, viruses are something to be informed about in general and in the context of schizophrenia. This new research supports past research demonstrating the increased risk of developing schizophrenia because of the contraction of certain viruses and the way these affect the brain both during pregnancy and after.

The Connection and Its Implication for Future Antipsychotics
"The research group...will soon test new substances which could inhibit the production of kynurenic acid." They hope to be able to understand how such substances work and thus create more effective drugs for treating schizophrenia.

Full Story: The Local, Link found between TBE and schizophrenia


I've pulled out ticks many times in different places around the world when i was in the was unavoidable because we spent so much time out in the field.

Posted by: Salty Davis at November 6, 2007 03:03 PM

It will be great if they will come up with new psychoactive drug to lower the level of kynurenic since is also responsible in our disease.
I just hope this disease will be over soon as possible.

Posted by: peter5 at November 6, 2007 04:26 PM

Have antiviral drugs ever been tried for schizoprenia? There seems a lot available since aids. If viruses remain dormant and can reoccur under stress (eg.shingles, ME etc) and stress is known to worsen schizophrenia is it not worth a try? Childhood viruses such as measles, whooping cough, chicken pox etc. Just a thought? Margaret

Posted by: margaret at May 8, 2008 01:43 PM

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