Schizophrenia-Associated Genetic Variants Affect Gene Regulation in Developing Brain

Schizophrenia-Associated Genetic Variants Affect Gene Regulation in Developing Brain

An international research collaboration has shed new light on how DNA sequence variation can influence gene activity in the developing human brain. The team, led by researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School, King’s College London and Cardiff University, conducted the first study of how genetic variation influences DNA methylation, an epigenetic modification that can have direct effects on gene expression and function, in the developing brain. They demonstrated the potential utility of such data for refining the genetic signals associated with diseases hypothesised to have a neurodevelopmental component, such as schizophrenia.

DNA methylation is a chemical modification to one of the four bases that make up our genetic code, controlling when and where genes are expressed. As with other epigenetic marks, it is known to be dynamic across the life course and modifiable by a number of factors, including the underlying genetic sequence. It represents one possible pathway between genetic variation and disease, with genetic differences altering the regulation of gene expression at specific points in development. In this study the authors found that genetic variants associated with schizophrenia were enriched for changes that impact upon DNA methylation in the developing brain. It is of particular interest that some of the genetic risk factors for schizophrenia are associated with differences in DNA methylation as early as the first and second trimester of life.

Professor Jonathan Mill, of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King's College London and the University of Exeter Medical School, said: "This study builds on the tremendous advances in identifying the genetic risks for schizophrenia in the last couple of years. We have shown that genetic variation can have significant effects on gene regulation during brain development, with important implications for understanding the origins of schizophrenia and other disorders with a neurodevelopmental component."

2 Replies

  • Hi.Dr.smarkham.i m shery from pak.please help wife last 2month postanatal child birth after five days she is very confuse tears day to day.some voice seeing difrent faces..i m going to pcychsis advice some tablet useing by routine..please help me.

  • Hi,

    I am wondering if any psychiatrists would like to speak to me. I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia six years ago, perhaps wrongly in my opinion. I have never had an hallucination or heard voices in my life.

    Three and a half months ago I came off Risperdal Consta and the occasional Procyclidine tablet. The reason for this is because I got fed up with the aches and pains, flu like symptoms, tiredness and general feeling like I was cycling up a hill with a hangover. I was also on Co-Codomol and any natural pain/tiredness relief from Holland and Barrett that might help.

    I actually thought I might have fibromyalgia and have recently been chatting on that sight. However, my aches and pains have pretty much disappeared and I don't feel so tired. I believe this is the result of the Risperdal Consta wearing off.

    There are many things I could talk about now from this experience. For example, I feel I am able to project a bit better now and I really am not bothered about eating as much as I was when on Risperdal. This is a good thing as losing a few pounds would be handy. I believe it is possible for a body to be projecting unhealthily and by doing so ones own body actions to be the cause of pain and discomfort.

    I also studied social anthropology at University.

    If you are interested I can chat and discuss if you like.

    Best regards


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