Schizophrenia is a severe psychiatric disorder of complex etiology. Immune processes have long been proposed to contribute to the development of schizophrenia, and accumulating evidence supports immune involvement in at least a subset of cases. In recent years, large-scale genetic studies have provided new insights into the role of the immune system in this disease. Here, we provide an overview of the immunogenetic architecture of schizophrenia based on findings from genome-wide association studies (GWAS). First, we review individual immune loci identified in secondary analyses of GWAS, which implicate over 30 genes expressed in both immune and brain cells. The function of the proteins encoded by these immune candidates highlight the role of the complement system, along with regulation of apoptosis in both immune and neuronal cells. Next, we review hypothesis-free pathway analyses which have so far been inconclusive with respect to identifying immune pathways involved in schizophrenia. Finally, we explore the genetic overlap between schizophrenia and immune-mediated diseases. Although there have been some inconsistencies across studies, genome-wide pleiotropy has been reported between schizophrenia and Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, type 1 diabetes, and ulcerative colitis. Overall, there are multiple lines of evidence supporting the role of immune genes in schizophrenia. Current evidence suggests that specific immune pathways are involved—likely those with dual functions in the central nervous system. Future studies focused on further elucidating the relevant pathways hold the potential to identify novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets for schizophrenia.

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