In vivo imaging of neuroinflammation in schizophrenia

Pasternak O, Kubicki M, Shenton ME

Schizophr. Res. 2016 Jun;173(3):200-12

PMID: 26048294


In recent years evidence has accumulated to suggest that neuroinflammation might be an early pathology of schizophrenia that later leads to neurodegeneration, yet the exact role in the etiology, as well as the source of neuroinflammation, are still not known. The hypothesis of neuroinflammation involvement in schizophrenia is quickly gaining popularity, and thus it is imperative that we have reliable and reproducible tools and measures that are both sensitive, and, most importantly, specific to neuroinflammation. The development and use of appropriate human in vivo imaging methods can help in our understanding of the location and extent of neuroinflammation in different stages of the disorder, its natural time-course, and its relation to neurodegeneration. Thus far, there is little in vivo evidence derived from neuroimaging methods. This is likely the case because the methods that are specific and sensitive to neuroinflammation are relatively new or only just being developed. This paper provides a methodological review of both existing and emerging positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging techniques that identify and characterize neuroinflammation. We describe how these methods have been used in schizophrenia research. We also outline the shortcomings of existing methods, and we highlight promising future techniques that will likely improve state-of-the-art neuroimaging as a more refined approach for investigating neuroinflammation in schizophrenia.