BACKGROUND Previous studies looking for evidence of viral infection in schizophrenics have yielded conflicting results. We searched for viral nucleic acids to test the hypothesis of the viral aetiology of schizophrenia.
METHOD We used the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to search for cytomegalovirus (CMV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), influenza A, Borna disease virus (BDV), and bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) in: hippocampus from three schizophrenic and three non-schizophrenic subjects; cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from 48 schizophrenic patients; CSF and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from nine sets of identical twins discordant for schizophrenia; and SK-N-SHEP cells co-cultured with schizophrenic and non-schizophrenic brain homogenates. All patients met DSM-III-R criteria.
RESULTS Virus-specific nucleic acids were not found in any of the samples tested.
CONCLUSIONS The absence of viral nucleic acids in the samples tested suggest that, in these patients, schizophrenia is not associated with a persistent or latent infection due to these viruses.