Understanding the role of genetics in developing schizophrenia

Understanding the role of genetics in developing schizophrenia

For long, it has been one of the biggest challenges to cure medical disorders like schizophrenia due to the paucity of information, restricting them to only alleviating the symptoms of the problem. Therefore, scientists have been lately focusing a lot on finding the biological and genetic risk factors of schizophrenia and other complicated mental disorders to ensure effective treatment by identifying the target areas.

One of the largest twin studies of schizophrenia has emphasized upon the significant role of genetics in the development of such a complicated disorder.  Compared to other psychosocial and environmental factors, researchers revealed that around 79 percent of the probability of developing schizophrenia depends on genetics. Likewise, other studies have also come out with some eye-opening findings.

Another study revealed the implications of genetic defects on the brain cells, especially glial cells responsible for facilitating communication between the neurons, both in the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral neurons.  Reportedly, the genetic default in glial cells is responsible for causing schizophrenia. It was corroborated by the fact that the glial cells taken from the schizophrenia patients were abnormal and damaged.

Seeking scientific perception

Scientists have been conducting intensive research to determine the extent to which genetic changes that occur somatically, during the development and lifetime of an individual, can affect the brain. Gene expression, the process by which the instructions in our deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) are converted into a functional product, such as a protein, is regulated at many levels by the segments of DNA acting as on–off switches at the key moments. But until now, there was no map that described the activity and location of these switches on a chromosome during neurogenesis.

Researchers have found that some psychiatric disorders that develop later in life, such as schizophrenia, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and neuroticism, have their origins during the earliest stages of brain growth in the fetus. Even a person’s future intellectual capabilities are set in motion during neurogenesis, researchers said.

Another study, conducted by the researchers from the Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Health, found a close association between the genetic changes in the frontal brain area and schizophrenia-related symptoms. There were also significant variation in messenger ribonucleic acids (mRNA) levels, responsible for transferring information from the DNA to the cell machinery that makes protein. Post measurement of the mRNA levels across the frontal pole of the brain, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and the cingulate cortex, researchers forecasted impact on the genetic pathways due to the change in gene expression. Since the frontal pole plays a vital role in maintaining the cognitive flexibility, any genetic changes leads to the impairment of reasoning and planning abilities, which further causes schizophrenia.

In a study conducted by a team of researchers examined the brains of healthy and schizophrenic people and compared them with the chimpanzee and rhesus macaque brains. The researchers looked for differences in gene expression and metabolite concentrations and identified molecular mechanisms involved in the evolution of human cognitive abilities. The researchers found that schizophrenia is a byproduct of the increased metabolic demands brought about during human brain evolution.

In-depth brain studies – an effective way to cure mental disorders

These studies provide clues about the possible treatment targets in the case of schizophrenia. Characterized by the incidents of hallucinations, muddled thoughts and delusions, schizophrenia has no cure and the available treatment is only partially effective. The findings of the above studies can help in creating new therapeutic solutions and early diagnosis tools.

Schizophrenia, a serious and potentially disabling mental disorder, affects an estimated less than one percent of the adult American population. Although it is not possible to completely cure schizophrenia, its treatment is focused on reducing the symptoms and decreasing the chances of a relapse. The treatment for schizophrenia at residential treatment centers may involve medications, psychotherapy, psychosocial treatments and other therapies.

If you know someone who is in need of help to cope with a mental illness, you can seek help from the California Mental Health Helpline. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-559-3923 or chat online with our experts to take guidance regarding the best mental health treatment centers in California.


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