e-ISSN 2329-0072




Activation of endogenous retroviruses by infection of the mother’s body during early pregnancy – the likely cause of schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis

Andrzej Brodziak, Ewa Ziółko, Małgorzata Muc-Wierzgoń

Med Sci Tech 2011; 52(1-2): RP1-6

ID: 882068

Available online:

Published: 2011-10-28


This paper presents a new, recently formulated theory, which explains the etiopathologic process of schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis. This theory takes into account the existence in the human genome since approximately 40 million years of so called evolution with endogenous retroviruses, which are transmitted to descendants vertically by the germ cells. It has recently been demonstrated that these generally silent sequences perform some physiological roles and occasionally become active, causing some chronic diseases.
        The authors discus the nature and functions of HERVs (Human Endogenous Retroviruses), then focus on their participation in the complex pathogenetic mechanisms of schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis.
        Activity of HERVs is only one of the elements of the pathogenesis of these diseases. A recently formulated hypothesis states that infection of a mother’s body during the peri-conceptual period by some agents (eg, toxoplasma and certain exogenous viruses) is a factor inducing the gene expression of HERVs.
        The authors discus how it could be possible that the antibodies produced against the said pathogens, and acting on the fetus in utero, may lead to the development of certain chronic diseases after many years.

Keywords: Schizophrenia, Toxoplasmosis, pathogenesis, Multiple Sclerosis, human endogenous retroviruses, HERV