MS and a Type of Schizophrenia May Belong to the Same Class of Disorders, Review Concludes

MS and a Type of Schizophrenia May Belong to the Same Class of Disorders, Review Concludes

Striking similarities between patients with multiple sclerosis and a type of schizophrenia suggest the disorders are related, according to a review of a number of studies.

Dr. Boris M. Arneth wrote the article, “Multiple Sclerosis and Schizophrenia.” It was published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

MS is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system, while schizophrenia is primarily considered a psychiatric disease. Patients with MS are reported to be at an increased risk of developing schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

There are similar abnormalities in the immune systems of those with MS and schizophrenia.

Experts suspect one of the causes of both illnesses is the immune system turning against the body and damaging healthy tissues and organs. Scientists have found brain tissue damage in people with MS and schizophrenia.

Autoantibodies, or antibodies that damage the body’s own cells, are present in MS and in a type of schizophrenia, although they have different targets in the brain.

Other similarities of MS and schizophrenia are that both typically develop during early adulthood, and both appear to be triggered by certain infections.

There are striking differences between MS and schizophrenia, too, however. For instance, MS affects women more than men, but schizophrenia affects the genders equally. Another difference is that MS affects whites more than blacks, while schizophrenia is more common in blacks than whites.

Experts estimate that 2.2 million Americans have schizophrenia and 400,000 MS.

Both diseases can occur in the same person, or in the same family. Arneth called for more studies on families. One reason is to see how often it happens. Another is to learn whether family members with either MS or schizophrenia share inherited traits.

“There may be hereditary elements that predispose patients to developing not only MS or SCZ [schizophrenia] separately but also both diseases simultaneously, as both diseases can occur in the same family,” Arneth wrote. “This would be an interesting point for future studies to investigate.”

The review turned up “similarities and differences in genetic, immunological, seasonal, geographical, and gender-related risk factors” for the two diseases, he said. “The findings suggest that subgroups of these two diseases may belong to the same class of disorders.”

8 comments

  1. charles says:

    multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia are both in my family. from my perspective, it seems like there might be a common genetic component. granted that my family constitutes one data point, which does not form a line, let alone a pattern.

    • Vivian M Callender says:

      Indeed. I have MS and my birth son is bi-polar. Plus, I have a first cousin who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 17. I was diagnosed with MS at age 52 after a lifetime of symptoms. I also had Epstein Barr Virus AKA Mono at age 18. Hmmmmmm

  2. Carol says:

    Personally, I do not think there is any link between schizophrenia and MS.
    I worked in the mental health field as a social worker for 20 years. I now have developed MS and cannot see the link. I worked with many families and in my experience I never came across one case of both conditions being in the same family!

  3. Stephanie says:

    So if MS is now being tied to gut bacteria then could there be a subset of schizophrenia patients who harbor the same significant imbalance of gut bacteria as seen in MS?

  4. Mychelle says:

    My father has schizophrenia and I have 2 sister’s with MS. I believe that they are related bc how does 2 sister get MS if there is no history of it in the family. But there is a history of schizophrenia.

  5. Andrej Anastasov says:

    I’ve got both and for an understanding social worker, first of all, your clinical deductions are very poor and your stigma towards schizophrenia is bizarre noting you are a ‘social worker’. Don’t worry, no ones going to throw eggs at you for the superman type of cape you are wearing. Just iterating that those who scream blue is evil are usually smurfs themselves. Schizophrenia is harder to endure than ms due to wonderful ‘social’ support readily encountered these days

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