View Full Version : Causal Link Between Schizophrenia and Specific Immune System Gene Variants

29-01-16, 18:01
This Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT study is very exciting indeed.

Genetic study provides first-ever insight into biological origin of schizophrenia


"A landmark study, based on genetic analysis of nearly 65,000 people, has revealed that a person's risk of schizophrenia is increased if they inherit specific variants in a gene related to "synaptic pruning" -- the elimination of connections between neurons. The findings represent the first time that the origin of this devastating psychiatric disease has been causally linked to specific gene variants and a biological process. They also help explain decades-old observations: synaptic pruning is particularly active during adolescence, which is the typical period of onset for schizophrenia symptoms, and brains of schizophrenic patients tend to show fewer connections between neurons. The gene, called complement component 4 (C4), plays a well-known role in the immune system but has now been shown to also play a key role in brain development and schizophrenia risk."

"collaborators around the world collected more than 100,000 human DNA samples from 30 different countries to locate regions of the human genome harboring genetic variants that increase the risk of schizophrenia. The strongest signal by far was on chromosome 6, in a region of DNA long associated with infectious disease, causing some observers to suggest that schizophrenia might be triggered by an infectious agent. But researchers had no idea which of the hundreds of genes in the region was actually responsible or how it acted."

I'm not sure about that. That there is a heritability factor has long been known. However, it does seem that this is another auto-immune linked disorder. 23andme tests for some of these variants.

Anyway, this is an example of what is possible with genomics. Schizophrenia may attack only about 1% of the population, but the total cost to society is huge.

30-01-16, 00:26
That's quiet fascinating, though I remember my teacher from psychology class back in High school telling us he believed that there was a link between schizophrenia and synaptic pruning. Seems he was correct!