Immune Function

Hypotheses about the link between immune dysfunction and schizophrenia date back to the early twentiethth century, and in the 1960s an autoimmune-

mediated process was implicated in the etiology of schizophrenia (Rappaport and Delrahim 2001). Paradoxically, however, studies of specific immunological disorders have generally supported lower prevalence rates among schizophrenic populations. For example, Ehrentheil (1957) and Lipper and Werman (1977) have noted a decreased incidence of asthma, hay fever, and other allergic reactions in schizophrenic patients. Other studies, such as Sabbath and Luce (1952), showed an alternating pattern of coexisting psychosis and allergies.

The strongest evidence for a negative association between schizophrenia and a disease exists for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Nissen and Spencer (1936) may have been the first to point out that RA and schizophrenia do not appear to exist together. Eaton et al. (1992) reviewed 14 epidemiological studies conducted between 1934 and 1985 and concluded that there was ample evidence to support the negative association between these two disorders. Baldwin (1979), Tsuang et al. (1983), and Allebeck (1989) are further examples of studies finding a low relative risk between the two disorders. Underdiagnosis has been proposed as one explanation for the negative association observed between schizophrenia and RA (Mors et al.

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