Fast Five Quiz: What Do You Know About Schizophrenia?

Stephen Soreff, MD


August 09, 2019

Immune function is disturbed in schizophrenia. Overactivation of the immune system may result in overexpression of inflammatory cytokines and subsequent alteration of brain structure and function. The immune system impairment may account for the lower life expectancy for people with schizophrenia.

Noticeable differences can be observed in the brains of some persons with schizophrenia and those without it (eg, decreased brain volume in medial temporal areas; changes in the hippocampus; reduced grey matter in the frontal, limbic, striatal, and thalamic regions). However, most neuroimaging studies show no significant clinical differences between the brains of persons with schizophrenia and those without.

The etiology of schizophrenia remains unknown. Although risk for schizophrenia is elevated in biologic relatives of affected individuals, and genome-wide association studies have identified many candidate genes, the implicated genes so far account for only a small fraction of schizophrenia cases. Schizophrenia is now believed to be the result of abnormalities in many genes, not just one. Concordance for schizophrenia is about 40%-50% for monozygotic (identical) twins.

For reasons that are still unclear, individuals born in the winter months may be at greater risk of developing the disorder.

To learn more about the etiology of schizophrenia, read here.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.