Evidence of immune system abnormalities in adult schizophrenia has prompted examination of the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system. Childhood onset schizophrenia offers a unique opportunity to test neurodevelopmental hypotheses of schizophrenia, including those which implicate components of the immune system. In the present study, class I and II HLA antigens were typed using sequence-specific primers and the polymerase chain reaction in 28 childhood onset schizophrenics and 51 ethnically matched healthy subjects. Groups were compared for frequencies of HLA antigens reported to be associated with schizophrenia and/or autoimmune disorders. We hypothesized that antigen frequencies would differ between schizophrenic and healthy children, suggesting that some dimension of the neurodevelopmental disturbance experienced by these children may be mediated by subtle abnormalities of immune function. There were no significant differences between schizophrenic and healthy subjects in the frequency of any antigen tested. These findings do not support HLA-associated pathology in childhood onset schizophrenia.
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