Studies in the psychoneuroimmunology of schizophrenia have revealed not only the neurological and cognitive alterations, but also the continuous systemic inflammation and neuroinflammation associated with microglia activation in the disease (Debnath and Venkatasubramanian, 2013). Activated peripheral and central inflammatory responses play critical roles in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia (Meyer et al., 2011).
Such inflammatory responses may influence emotional and cognitive functions, and contribute to the negative symptoms of the disease. In addition, environmental and genetic factors may also be involved in the inflammatory processes and the progression of schizophrenia.
These mechanisms suggest potential alternative therapeutic strategies for schizophrenia on the basis of immunomodulation. Traditional antipsychotic drugs have emphasized on controlling the symptoms rather than addressing the underlying mechanisms such as inflammation. The use of anti-inflammatory drugs has been found to have better target specificity, not only for controlling the symptoms but also for inhibiting pro-inflammatory mediators and microglia activation (Debnath and Venkatasubramanian, 2013).
Such anti-inflammatory compounds can be co-administered with those standard antipsychotic drugs for better effects (Meyer et al., 2011). However, more methodological robustness and integrative strategies are still needed for improving the effectiveness in the immunomodulation treatments. Furthermore, the genetic, social, and environmental factors should also be considered for a better therapeutic design and development.
Debnath M, Venkatasubramanian G. Recent advances in psychoneuroimmunology relevant to schizophrenia therapeutics. Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2013 Sep;26(5):433-9. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e328363b4da.
Meyer U, Schwarz MJ, Müller N. Inflammatory processes in schizophrenia: a promising neuroimmunological target for the treatment of negative/cognitive symptoms and beyond. Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Oct;132(1):96-110. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2011.06.003.