Investigation of schizophrenic patients from Istanbul, Turkey for the presence of West Nile virus

Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2012 Mar;262(2):173-7. doi: 10.1007/s00406-011-0222-6. Epub 2011 Jul 2.


Association of some neurotropic viruses like Borna Disease virus and Herpes virus with schizophrenia is better explained. However, the role of West Nile virus (WNV) infection in schizophrenia is not well documented. Therefore, this study was performed to investigate possible association between schizophrenia and presence of antibodies and WNV RNA in schizophrenic patients. For this, 200 blood samples from patients with schizophrenia and 200 from control groups were collected in Istanbul, Turkey. WNV RNA was not detected in any of the 200 patients and 200 controls analyzed by real-time RT-PCR. One hundred and twelve sera of schizophrenic patients and 162 of controls were analyzed for the presence of IgG antibodies to WNV by a commercial IgG-ELISA (Euroimmun, Germany). Antibodies to WNV were detected in 6 schizophrenic patients and 5 controls. ELISA positive patients had antipsychotic therapy. The difference between groups in terms of seropositivity to WNV was not statistically significant (p = 0.887, p = 0.148). Known symptoms of schizophrenia were observed in these patients, and interestingly majority had close contact to cats in the past and come from agricultural area of Turkey where potential area of mosquitoes and bird habitat. In conclusion, the results of this study show that antibodies to WNV in people do not seem to be associated with schizophrenia. However, detecting antibodies to WNV in schizophrenic patients suggests that WNV infection should be considered in endemic areas as it may play role in psychiatric diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • RNA, Viral / analysis
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • Schizophrenia / blood
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology*
  • Turkey / epidemiology
  • West Nile Fever / blood
  • West Nile Fever / epidemiology*
  • West Nile Fever / virology*
  • West Nile virus / genetics
  • West Nile virus / pathogenicity*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • RNA, Viral