A review of the fetal brain cytokine imbalance hypothesis of schizophrenia

Urs Meyer, Joram Feldon, Kay Yan Benjamin Yee

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

275 Citations (Scopus)


Maternal infection during pregnancy increases the risk of schizophrenia and other brain disorders of neurodevelopmental origin in the offspring. A multitude of infectious agents seem to be involved in this association. Therefore, it has been proposed that factors common to the immune response to a wide variety of bacterial and viral pathogens may be the critical link between prenatal infection and postnatal brain and behavioral pathology. More specifically, it has been suggested that the maternal induction of pro-inflammatory cytokines may mediate the neurodevelopmental effects of maternal infections. Here, we review recent findings from in vitro and in vivo investigations supporting this hypothesis and further emphasize the influence of enhanced anti-inflammatory cytokine signaling on early brain development. Disruption of the fetal brain balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine signaling may thus represent a key mechanism involved in the precipitation of schizophrenia-related pathology following prenatal maternal infection and innate immune imbalances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)959-972
Number of pages14
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal model
  • Cytokines
  • Fetus
  • Infection
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Pregnancy
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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