Food and Behaviour Research

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Gastroenterology issues in schizophrenia: why the gut matters.

Severance EG, Prandovszky E, Castiglione J, Yolken RH. (2015) Curr Psychiatry Rep.  17(5) 27. doi: 10.1007/s11920-015-0574-0. 

Web URL: View this and related abstracts via PubMed here. Free full text of this article is available online


Genetic and environmental studies implicate immune pathologies in 
schizophrenia. The body's largest immune organ is the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Historical associations of GI conditions with mental illnesses predate the introduction of antipsychotics. Current studies of antipsychotic-naïve patients support that gut dysfunction may be inherent to the 
schizophrenia disease process.

Risk factors for 
schizophrenia (inflammation, food intolerances, Toxoplasma gondii exposure, cellular barrier defects) are part of biological pathways that intersect those operant in the gut.

Central to GI function is a homeostatic microbial community, and early reports show that it is disrupted in 
schizophrenia. Bioactive and toxic products derived from digestion and microbial dysbiosis activate adaptive and innate immunity.

Complement C1q, a brain-active systemic immune component, interacts with gut-related 
schizophrenia risk factors in clinical and experimental animal models.

With accumulating evidence supporting newly discovered gut-brain physiological pathways, treatments to ameliorate brain symptoms of 
schizophrenia should be supplemented with therapies to correct GI dysfunction.