Neurotrophic factors and the pathophysiology of schizophrenic psychoses

Eur Psychiatry. 2004 Sep;19(6):326-37. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2004.06.020.


The aim of this review is to summarize the present state of findings on altered neurotrophic factor levels in schizophrenic psychoses, on variations in genes coding for neurotrophic factors, and on the effect of antipsychotic drugs on the expression level of neurotrophic factors. This is a conceptual paper that aims to establish the link between the neuromaldevelopment theory of schizophrenia and neurotrophic factors. An extensive literature review has been done using the Pub Med database, a service of the National Library of Medicine, which includes over 14 million citations for biomedical articles back to the 1950s. The majority of studies discussed in this review support the notion of alterations of neurotrophic factors at the protein and gene level, respectively, and support the hypothesis that these alterations could, at least partially, explain some of the morphological, cytoarchitectural and neurobiochemical abnormalities found in the brain of schizophrenic patients. However, the results are not always conclusive and the clinical significance of these alterations is not fully understood. It is, thus, important to further neurotrophic factor research in order to better understand the etiopathogenesis of schizophrenic psychoses and, thus, potentially develop new treatment strategies urgently needed for patients suffering from these devastating disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / physiology
  • Dentate Gyrus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Nerve Growth Factor / physiology
  • Nerve Growth Factors / classification
  • Nerve Growth Factors / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology
  • Psychotic Disorders / etiology*
  • Psychotic Disorders / metabolism
  • Psychotic Disorders / physiopathology*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Receptor, trkC / metabolism
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Nerve Growth Factor
  • Receptor, trkC