Study reveals link between brain cell development and risk of schizophrenia

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Scientists at Cardiff University have discovered a new link between disruption of brain cell development and the risk of schizophrenia and other mental disorders.

Genetic risk factors are known to impede brain development in many of these disorders, but little is known about which aspects of this process are affected.

This study is the first time that genetic disruption of certain cellular processes essential to brain development has been associated with disease risk in a wide range of mental disorders.

Survey results will be published in the journal today Nature Communications..

The study was co-led by Dr. Andrew Pocklington of the Department of Psychology and Clinical Neuroscience at Cardiff University and Dr. Eunju Jenny Shin of the Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health at Cardiff University and now at Kiel University.

Dr. Pocklington said: “Genetic factors play an important role in determining a person’s risk of developing a mental disorder, revealing the biological processes affected by them. Genetic risk factors It’s a big step towards understanding the cause of the illness. “

Dr. Shin said: “To truly understand the root causes of mental illness, we focused on studying brain development. cell.. The knowledge gained through this approach will ultimately help guide the development of new therapies, or explain why some individuals respond to some treatments but not others. May be useful for. “

Scientists have used human pluripotent stem cells to study the birth and early development of human brain cells (a process known as neurogenesis) in vitro.

They identified several sets of genes that were switched on during neurogenesis — both. Invitro and human fetal brain-each set appears to play a different functional role. Researchers have shown that genetic risk factors that contribute to schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders are highly concentrated in these sets.

Dr. Shin said: “In vitro experiments have shown that disturbed activation of these sets alters the shape, movement, and electrical activity of developing brain cells, and changes in these properties lead to disease.”

Disorders associated with the disruption of these genes included both early-onset states (“Growth retardation, Autism and ADHD), and, more surprisingly, late onset due to early confusion (bipolar disorder, major depression) Brain development It is not generally considered to play a major role.

This is due to the mature brain function in which some of these genes (first switched on long before birth) remain active in later life and may be potential therapeutic targets. It raises the question of whether it will contribute.

Dr. Pocklington said: “Previous studies have shown that genes that are active in mature brain cells are rich in common genetic variation that contributes to schizophrenia. Risk factors.

“This is because some of the biological pathways that were first switched on in the early prenatal brain may remain active in later life, and genetic variation of these pathways has developed and matured. It suggests that it contributes to the disease by destroying both brain functions. “

Further work is needed to plan the entire range of developmental processes disrupted by various mental disorders and to investigate their long-term effects. brain..

Dr. Shin said: “There are many things that haven’t been revealed yet, but our findings are: Mental illness Schizophrenia etc. ”

The gene emphasizes five mental disorders

For more information:
Transcriptional programs that regulate neural differentiation are disrupted in DLG2 knockout human embryonic stem cells, enriching risk variants for schizophrenia and associated disorders. Nature Communications (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-021-27601-0

Provided by
Cardiff University

Quote: Schizophrenia obtained on January 14, 2022 from https: // by research (January 14, 2022) ) And the relationship between brain cell development

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