Neurodevelopmental versus neurodegenerative model of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder: comparison with physiological brain development and aging
Buoli, M., Serati, M., Caldiroli, A., Cremaschi, L., Altamura, A.C.
Psychiatria Danubina 2017; 29: 24-27
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Available data support a contribution of both neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative factors in the etiology of schizophrenia (SCH) and bipolar disorder (BD). Of note, one of the most important issue of the current psychiatric research is to identify the specific factors that contribute to impaired brain development and neurodegeneration in SCH and BD, and especially how these factors alter normal brain development and physiological aging process. Our hypothesis is that only specific damages, taking place in precise brain development stages, are associated with future SCH / BD onset and that neurodegeneration consists of an acceleration of brain aging after SCH / BD onset. In support of our hypothesis, the results of the present narrative mini-review shows as neurodevelopmental damages generally contribute to neuropsychiatric syndromes (e.g. hypothyroidism or treponema pallidum), but only some of them are specifically associated with adult SCH and BD (e.g. toxoplasma or substance abuse), particularly if they happen in specific stages of brain development. On the other hand, cognitive impairment and brain changes, associated with long duration of SCH / BD, look like what happens during aging: memory, executive domains and prefrontal cortex are implicated both in aging and in SCH / BD progression. Future research will explore possible validity of this etiological model for SCH and BD.