January 1992

Search for Cytomegalovirus in the Postmortem Brains of Schizophrenic Patients Using the Polymerase Chain Reaction

Author Affiliations

From the Neuropsychiatry (Drs Alexander, Wyatt, and Kirch) and Clinical Brain Disorders (Drs Casanova and Kleinman) Branches, National Institute of Mental Health Neuroscience Center at St Elizabeths, Washington, DC; and the Department of Pediatrics and Center for Molecular Genetics (Dr Spector), University of California, San Diego, La Jolla. Dr Alexander is now with Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pa.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1992;49(1):47-53. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1992.01820010047006

• Cytomegalovirus infection has a number of features that suggest a possible association between congenital infection and schizophrenia. Previous studies have investigated anti-cytomegalovirus antibody titers or attempted directly to identify viral antigens in body fluids or brain tissue from schizophrenic subjects but have been limited by the sensitivity of the available methods. The highly sensitive polymerase chain reaction, a newly developed technique for gene amplification, was used to search for cytomegalovirus in the DNA extracted from postmortem temporal cortex samples of eight schizophrenic subjects, eight nonschizophrenic suicide victims, and eight normal controls. Cytomegalovirus-specific DNA amplification was not detected in any of the samples. The implications of this finding for the viral hypothesis of schizophrenia are discussed.