A review of vulnerability and risks for schizophrenia: Beyond the two hit hypothesis

Justin Davis, Harris Eyre, Felice N. Jacka, Seetal Dodd, Olivia Dean, Sarah McEwen, Monojit Debnath, John McGrath, Michael Maes, Paul Amminger, Patrick D. McGorry, Christos Pantelis, Michael Berk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

219 Scopus citations


Schizophrenia risk has often been conceptualized using a model which requires two hits in order to generate the clinical phenotype-the first as an early priming in a genetically predisposed individual and the second a likely environmental insult. The aim of this paper was to review the literature and reformulate this binary risk-vulnerability model. We sourced the data for this narrative review from the electronic database PUBMED. Our search terms were not limited by language or date of publication. The development of schizophrenia may be driven by genetic vulnerability interacting with multiple vulnerability factors including lowered prenatal vitamin D exposure, viral infections, smoking intelligence quotient, social cognition cannabis use, social defeat, nutrition and childhood trauma. It is likely that these genetic risks, environmental risks and vulnerability factors are cumulative and interactive with each other and with critical periods of neurodevelopmental vulnerability. The development of schizophrenia is likely to be more complex and nuanced than the binary two hit model originally proposed nearly thirty years ago. Risk appears influenced by a more complex process involving genetic risk interfacing with multiple potentially interacting hits and vulnerability factors occurring at key periods of neurodevelopmental activity, which culminate in the expression of disease state. These risks are common across a number of neuropsychiatric and medical disorders, which might inform common preventive and intervention strategies across non-communicable disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-194
Number of pages10
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'A review of vulnerability and risks for schizophrenia: Beyond the two hit hypothesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this