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Gene Linked to Schizophrenia Reduces Cancer Risk

In a bad news, good news story, researchers discover people who inherit a specific form of a gene associated with schizophrenia may be protected against some forms of cancer.

The findings come from new study by scientists at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.

The MET proto-oncogene is activated in a variety of tumor malignancies, has recently been linked to autism, and has a role in neurodevelopment.

This variety of associations led researchers Katherine E. Burdick, PhD and colleagues to look for a relationship between MET and schizophrenia in a large sample of patients.

Such an association may help explain the family-based data that suggest that inheriting an enhanced risk for schizophrenia reduces one’s chances of developing cancer.

In a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Dr. Burdick and colleagues examined the relationship between 21 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in MET and schizophrenia in 173 patients and 137 normal volunteers.

They found that several varieties of MET influenced the risk for schizophrenia, as well as general cognitive ability. The authors were able to replicate their findings in a second sample of 107 patients and 112 healthy volunteers.

“The results add to the growing evidence suggesting an intriguing relationship between cancer-related genes and schizophrenia susceptibility,” the scientists wrote.

It remains unclear exactly how the gene actually may increase the risk for schizophrenia while protecting against some forms of cancer. However, evidence from research on MET in autism provides some insight.

Specifically, it is known that MET is activated (increased activity) when tumors develop and can increase the chance that cancer cells multiply and infiltrate other tissue.

The activation of MET during normal neurodevelopment is critical to ensure that neurons grow and migrate to position themselves correctly in the human cortex.

In autism, it appears that while the brain is developing, reduced MET activity results in structural and functional changes in the brain that may increase a person’s risk for developing the disorder.

The Feinstein investigators speculate that the same risk-inducing mechanism may be at play in its link to schizophrenia.

Source: North Shore-Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Health System

Gene Linked to Schizophrenia Reduces Cancer Risk

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Gene Linked to Schizophrenia Reduces Cancer Risk. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/01/20/gene-linked-to-schizophrenia-reduces-cancer-risk/10850.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 5 Jul 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Jul 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.