The schizophrenia-rheumatoid arthritis connection: Infectious, immune, or both?

E. Fuller Torrey, Robert H. Yolken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Schizophrenia and rheumatoid arthritis share an impressive number of similarities. Both are chronic, relapsing diseases of unknown etiology. Both became prominent in the early 19th century and have prevalences of approximately 1% in North America and Europe. Both run in families, have pairwise concordance rates of approximately 30% among monozygotic twins, and are more common among individuals born in urban areas. For both diseases, studies have reported greater exposure to cats in childhood than in controls. Both diseases have been associated with similar class II HLA antigens. Both have also been suspected of having infectious etiology, with similar agents - retroviruses, herpesviruses including EBV, and Toxoplasma gondii - having been associated in some cases. Since there is also a well-documented inverse correlation between these two diseases, it is possible that they share a common infectious and/or immune etiology and that once a person gets one of the diseases then they are relatively immune to the other.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-410
Number of pages10
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Epidemiology
  • HLA
  • Infectious
  • Rheumatoid
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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