Different distribution patterns of lymphocytes and microglia in the hippocampus of patients with residual versus paranoid schizophrenia: further evidence for disease course-related immune alterations?

Brain Behav Immun. 2012 Nov;26(8):1273-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2012.08.005. Epub 2012 Aug 14.


Certain cytokines have been identified in the peripheral blood as trait markers of schizophrenia, while others are considered relapse-related state markers. Furthermore, data from peripheral blood, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and nuclear imaging studies suggest that (1) blood-brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction (e.g., immigration of lymphocytes into brain tissue and intrathecal antibody production) correlates with the development of negative symptoms, while (2) the brain's mononuclear phagocyte system (microglial cells) is activated during acute psychosis. Based on these neuroinflammatory hypotheses, we have quantified the numerical density of immunostained CD3+ T-lymphocytes, CD20+ B-lymphocytes, and HLA-DR+ microglial cells in the posterior hippocampus of 17 schizophrenia patients and 11 matched controls. Disease course-related immune alterations were considered by a separate analysis of residual (prevailing negative symptoms, n=7) and paranoid (prominent positive symptoms, n=10) schizophrenia cases. Higher densities of CD3+ and CD20+ lymphocytes were observed in residual versus paranoid schizophrenia (CD 3: left: P=0.047, right: P=0.038; CD20: left: P=0.020, right: P=0.010) and controls (CD3: left: P=0.057, right: P=0.069; CD20: left: P=0.008, right: P=0.006). In contrast, HLA-DR+ microglia were increased in paranoid schizophrenia versus residual schizophrenia (left: P=0.030, right: P=0.012). A similar trend emerged when this group was compared to controls (left: P=0.090, right: P=0.090). BBB impairment and infiltration of T cells and B cells may contribute to the pathophysiology of residual schizophrenia, while microglial activation seems to play a role in paranoid schizophrenia. The identification of diverse immune endophenotypes may facilitate the development of distinct anti-inflammatory schizophrenia therapies to normalize BBB function, (auto)antibody production or microglial activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD20 / metabolism
  • Autopsy
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / immunology
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism
  • Disease Progression
  • HLA-DR Antigens / immunology
  • HLA-DR Antigens / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / immunology*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Microglia / cytology
  • Microglia / immunology*
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Schizophrenia, Paranoid / immunology*


  • Antigens, CD20
  • HLA-DR Antigens