Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) search for viral nucleic acid sequences in schizophrenia

A. M. Sierra-Honigmann, K. M. Carbone, R. H. Yolken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Background. Previous studies looking for evidence of viral infection in schizophrenics have yielded conflicting results. We searched for viral nucleic acids to test the hypothesis of the viral aetiology of schizophrenia. Method. We used the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to search for cytomegalovirus (CMV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), influenza A, Borna disease virus (BDV), and bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) in: hippocampus from three schizophrenic and three non-schizophrenic subjects; cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from 48 schizophrenic patients; CSF and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from nine sets of identical twins discordant for schizophrenia; and SK-N-SHEP cells co-cultured with schizophrenic and non-schizophrenic brain homogenates. All patients met DSM-III-R criteria. Results. Virus-specific nucleic acids were not found in any of the samples tested. Conclusions. The absence of viral nucleic acids in the samples tested suggest that, in these patients, schizophrenia is not associated with a persistent or latent infection due to these viruses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-60
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue numberJAN.
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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