Association between -G308A tumor necrosis factor alpha gene polymorphism and schizophrenia

F. Boin, R. Zanardini, R. Pioli, C. A. Altamura, M. Maes, M. Gennarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Scopus citations


Dysregulation of the inflammatory response system has been linked to pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Evidence of immune activation has derived from the detection of abnormal levels of proinflammatory cytokines and their receptors in peripheral blood and cerebrospinal fluid from schizophrenic patients. Cytokines are involved in normal CNS development as well as in the pathogenesis of many neuro-psychiatric disorders, acting directly on neural cells or modulating neuro-transmitter and neuropeptide systems. In particular tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα), depending on its concentration, can exert both neurotrophic and neurotoxic effects and influence neural cell growth and proliferation. Moreover, TNFα gene is located on the small arm of chromosome 6 (6p21.1-21.3), a locus associated with genetic susceptibility to schizophrenia. We studied the distribution of -G308A TNFα gene polymorphism in 84 schizophrenic patients and in 138 healthy volunteers. This biallelic base exchange polymorphism directly affects TNFα plasma levels. Frequency of the TNF2(A) allele is significantly increased in schizophrenic patients as compared to controls (P = 0.0042). Genotype distribution is also significantly different (P =0.0024). TNF2 homozygotes are represented only in the patient group (P = 0.002). These data suggest a potential role of TNFα as a candidate gene for susceptibility to schizophrenia and suggest that immune dysregulation in schizophrenic patients could also have a genetic component.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-82
Number of pages4
JournalMolecular psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytokines
  • DNA
  • Polymorphism
  • Promoter regions
  • Schizophrenia
  • TNF-alpha

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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