Reduced maternal levels of common viruses during pregnancy predict offspring psychosis: Potential role of enhanced maternal immune activity? - PubMed - NCBI

Viral infections during the prenatal or early childhood periods are one
of the environmental factors which might play an etiological role in
psychoses. Several studies report higher antibody levels against viruses
during pregnancy in blood of mothers of offspring with psychotic
disorders, but the presence of such viruses has never been demonstrated.
The goal of this study was to investigate the potential association
between viral infections during pregnancy and progeny with psychotic
disorders and, for this purpose, we performed a nested case-control
study involving pregnant mothers of offspring with schizophrenia or
bipolar disorder with psychotic features (cases, N=43) and pregnant
women with healthy offspring (controls, N=95). Since several potential
viral candidates have been suggested in prior work, a broad-spectrum
virus detection system was necessary. A metagenomic analysis performed
with the virus discovery method VIDISCA-454 revealed only common
blood-associated viruses in all cohorts. However, a significantly lower
viral prevalence was detected in the group of cases and in the
sub-population of pregnant mothers of offspring with schizophrenia
(p<0.05). Consistent with the existing inverse correlation between
the level of these viruses and the immunocompetence of an individual, we
hypothesized the presence of a higher immune activity during pregnancy
in mothers whose offspring later develop a psychotic disorder as
compared to controls. Combining our results with previously available
literature data on antibody levels during the gestation period suggests
that a more prominent maternal immune activity can be considered a risk
factor for developing psychosis.

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