The cross-talk between the dopaminergic and the immune system involved in schizophrenia
Vidal, Pía M.
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Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters whose transmission is altered in a number of neural pathways in the brain of schizophrenic patients. Current evidence indicates that these alterations involve hyperactive dopaminergic transmission in mesolimbic areas, striatum, and hippocampus, whereas hypoactive dopaminergic transmission has been reported in the prefrontal cortex of schizophrenic patients. Consequently, schizophrenia is associated with several cognitive and behavioral alterations. Of note, the immune system has been found to collaborate with the central nervous system in a number of cognitive and behavioral functions, which are dysregulated in schizophrenia. Moreover, emerging evidence has associated schizophrenia and inflammation. Importantly, different lines of evidence have shown dopamine as a major regulator of inflammation. In this regard, dopamine might exert strong regulation in the activity, migration, differentiation, and proliferation of immune cells that have been shown to contribute to cognitive functions, including T-cells, microglial cells, and peripheral monocytes. Thereby, alterations in dopamine levels associated to schizophrenia might affect inflammatory response of immune cells and consequently some behavioral functions, including reference memory, learning, social behavior, and stress resilience. Altogether these findings support the involvement of an active cross-talk between the dopaminergic and immune systems in the physiopathology of schizophrenia. In this review we summarize, integrate, and discuss the current evidence indicating the involvement of an altered dopaminergic regulation of immunity in schizophrenia.