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The cellular neurobiology of schizophrenia remains poorly understood. We discuss neuroimaging studies, pathological findings, and experimental work supporting the idea that glial cells might contribute to the development of schizophrenia. Experimental studies suggest that abnormalities in the differentiation competence of glial progenitor cells lead to failure in the morphological and functional maturation of oligodendrocytes and astrocytes. We propose that immune activation of microglial cells during development, superimposed upon genetic risk factors, could contribute to defective differentiation competence of glial progenitor cells. The resulting hypomyelination and disrupted white matter integrity might contribute to transmission desynchronisation and dysconnectivity, whereas the failure of astrocytic differentiation results in abnormal glial coverage and support of synapses. The delayed and deficient maturation of astrocytes might, in parallel, lead to disruption of glutamatergic, potassium, and neuromodulatory homoeostasis, resulting in dysregulated synaptic transmission. By highlighting a role for glial cells in schizophrenia, these studies potentially point to new mechanisms for disease modification. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Andrea G Dietz, Steven A Goldman, Maiken Nedergaard. Glial cells in schizophrenia: a unified hypothesis. The lancet. Psychiatry. 2020 Mar;7(3):272-281

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PMID: 31704113

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