Endogenous retroviruses and schizophrenia

R. H. Yolken, H. Karlsson, F. Yee, N. L. Johnston-Wilson, E. F. Torrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


Retroviruses are biologically complex infectious agents which are capable of cellular infection and subsequent integration into the host genome. Retroviruses can exist in an endogenous form in which viral sequences are integrated into the human germline and are vertically transmitted in a Mendelian fashion. The transcriptional activation of these viral sequences in cells within the central nervous system can affect the transcriptional regulation of adjacent genes and result in alterations of neural functioning. This report discusses evidence for a possible role of endogenous retroviruses in the etiopathogenesis of schizophrenia and other human brain diseases. Evidence of endogenous retrovirus activity is manifested by the identification of viral sequences in the brains and cerebrospinal fluids of affected individuals. In addition, affected individuals display evidence of increased activity of virally-encoded reverse transcriptase. The identification of a retroviral component of schizophrenia would be consistent with genetic, environmental, and neurodevelopmental aspects of the disease process. The delineation of a role for retroviruses in disease pathogenesis might lead to new methods for the diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-199
Number of pages7
JournalBrain Research Reviews
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Mar 2000


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Endogenous retroviruses
  • Retroviruses
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Endogenous retroviruses and schizophrenia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this