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From Adolescent Neurogenesis to Schizophrenia: Opportunities, Challenges and Promising Interventions

Adele Quartini, Francesca Pacitti, Giuseppe Bersani, Angela Iannitelli


Schizophrenia is a maldevelopmental disease with multifactorial etiopathogenesis linked to disturbances in the prenatal/ perinatal environment and to social factors and/or addictive drugs consumption during adolescence/young adulthood. Adolescence has been demonstrated to represent a very sensitive period for brain development. Exposure to adverse life events (chronic social isolation and/or instability) and/or addictive drugs (opioids, cocaine, cannabinoids, alcohol, nicotine) during adolescence has been linked to deviations in the normal neurodevelopment, producing a brain particularly at risk of mental diseases. Several psychopharmacological drugs and environmental factors have been reported to protect against the detrimental effect on neurogenesis caused by the aforementioned genetic and/or epigenetic vulnerabilities. Nerve growth factor (NGF) is one of the strongest stimuli of adult/adolescent neurogenesis and a promising neuromodulator to prevent and/or ameliorate the various behavioral and cognitive schizophrenic symptoms. Biomed Rev 2017; 28: 62-69.


Key words: schizophrenia, neurodevelopment, adolescence, stem cells, adult neurogenesis, addictive drugs, life events, NGF

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About The Authors

Adele Quartini
Sapienza University A. Fiorini Hospital, Terracina (LT), Rome

Department of Medical-Surgical Sciences and Biotechnologies, Faculty of Pharmacy and Medicine

DSM ASL/LT – Unit of Psychiatry

Francesca Pacitti
University of L’Aquila, Rome

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences

Giuseppe Bersani
Sapienza University A. Fiorini Hospital, Terracina (LT), Rome

Department of Medical-Surgical Sciences and Biotechnologies, Faculty of Pharmacy and Medicine

DSM ASL/LT – Unit of Psychiatry

Angela Iannitelli
University of L’Aquila, Rome Italian Psychoanalytical Society (SPI), Rome International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA), London, UK

Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences

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