Retroviruses, genes and schizophrenia

Robert H. Yolken, Håkan Karlsson, Thomas A. Bayer, Nancy Johnston-Wilson, Frances Yee, E. Fuller Torrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Schizophrenia is a pervasive neuropsychiatric disease of worldwide importance. Data derived from epidemiological and family studies indicate there are both genetic and environmental contributions to disease pathogenesis. However, standard experimental approaches have not led to the identification of specific factors associated with disease susceptibility. We propose that endogenous retroviruses (Ers) may be contributing to both the genetic and environmental components of schizophrenia. Experimental evidence supporting this hypothesis is provided by the detection of endogenous retrovirus transcripts in the brains and cerebrospinal fluids of some individuals with schizophrenia. Furthermore, many individuals with schizophrenia have serological evidence of immune reaction to Er proteins. The further study of Ers in individuals with schizophrenia and other serious human psychiatric diseases might lead to new insights into the pathogenesis of these disorders and result in the development of new methods for disease prevention and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-169
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Neuroscience Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Endogenous retroviruses
  • Gene-environmental interactions
  • Genes
  • Retroviruses
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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