In search for the elusive schizophrenia pathway, candidate genes for the disorder from a discovery sample were localized within the energy-delivering and ischemia protection pathway. To test the adult vascular-ischemic (AVIH) and the competing neurodevelopmental hypothesis (NDH), functional genomic analyses of practically all available schizophrenia-associated genes from candidate gene, genome-wide association and postmortem expression studies were performed. Our results indicate a significant overrepresentation of genes involved in vascular function (P<0.001), vasoregulation (that is, perivascular (P<0.001) and shear stress (P<0.01), cerebral ischemia (P<0.001), neurodevelopment (P<0.001) and postischemic repair (P<0.001) among schizophrenia-associated genes from genetic association studies. These findings support both the NDH and the AVIH. The genes from postmortem studies showed an upregulation of vascular-ischemic genes (P=0.020) combined with downregulated synaptic (P=0.005) genes, and ND/repair (P=0.003) genes. Evidence for the AVIH and the NDH is critically discussed.
We conclude that schizophrenia is probably a mild adult vascular-ischemic and postischemic repair disorder. Adult postischemic repair involves ND genes for adult neurogenesis, synaptic plasticity, glutamate and increased long-term potentiation of excitatory neurotransmission (i-LTP). Schizophrenia might be caused by the cerebral analog of microvascular angina.