The interaction between viruses and genes in a way may increase the risk of developing schizophrenia significantly. This happens in the developing foetus.
An international team of scientists led by Aarhus University, Denmark, has made this discovery. As the first in the world, they scanned the entire genome of hundreds of sick and healthy people to see if there is an interaction between genes and a very common virus - cytomegalovirus - and to see whether the interaction influences the risk of developing schizophrenia.
And it does.Women that have been infected by the virus - and around 70 % has - will have a statistically significant increased risk of giving birth to a child who later develops schizophrenia if the child also has the aforementioned gene variant. This variant is found in 15 percent. The risk is five times higher than usual, the researchers report in Molecular Psychiatry. No cause for alarm People infected with cytomegalovirus most often do not know it, as the infection by the virus, which belongs to the herpes virus family, is usually very mild.