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Keywords:

  • hormones;
  • psychoses;
  • sex-specificity;
  • sex chromosomes;
  • genetic transmission

Abstract

Although there is a long history to examinations of sex differences in the familial (and specifically, genetic) transmission of schizophrenia, there have been few investigators who have systematically and rigorously studied this issue. This is true even in light of population and clinical studies identifying significant sex differences in incidence, expression, neuroanatomic and functional brain abnormalities, and course of schizophrenia. This review highlights the history of work in this arena from studies of family transmission patterns, linkage and twin studies to the current molecular genetic strategies of large genome-wide association studies. Taken as a whole, the evidence supports the presence of genetic risks of which some are sex-specific (i.e., presence in one sex and not the other) or sex-dependent (i.e., quantitative differences in risk between the sexes). Thus, a concerted effort to systematically investigate these questions is warranted and, as we argue here, necessary in order to fully understand the etiology of schizophrenia. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.