Schizophrenia and autism: both shared and disorder-specific pathogenesis via perinatal inflammation?

Pediatr Res. 2011 May;69(5 Pt 2):26R-33R. doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e318212c196.


Prenatal exposure to infection and subsequent inflammatory responses have been implicated in the etiology of schizophrenia and autism. In this review, we summarize current evidence from human and animal studies supporting the hypothesis that the pathogenesis of these two disorders is linked via exposure to inflammation at early stages of development. Moreover, we propose a hypothetical model in which inflammatory mechanisms may account for multiple shared and disorder-specific pathological characteristics of both entities. In essence, our model suggests that acute neuroinflammation during early fetal development may be relevant for the induction of psychopathological and neuropathological features shared by schizophrenia and autism, whereas postacute latent and persistent inflammation may contribute to schizophrenia- and autism-specific phenotypes, respectively.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications*
  • Schizophrenia / etiology*