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Changes in Specific Gene May Up Risk of Some Mental Illnesses

Changes in Specific Gene May Up Risk of Some Mental Illnesses

In a new study, brain scans reveal the disruption or mutation of a specific gene increases the risk of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression.

Investigators believe the genetic mutation affects the structure, function and chemistry of the brain. They believe the findings could help in the quest for new treatments.

In the study, researchers led by the University of Edinburgh scanned the brains of people that have a specific genetic mutation that causes part of one chromosome to swap places with another.

The mutation results in disruption of a gene called DISC1, which is associated with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and recurrent major depression.

The team found that people with the genetic mutation had changes in the structure of their brain. These changes were linked with the severity of their symptoms of mental ill health.

Investigators also showed that carriers of the mutation had lower levels of a neural signaling chemical called glutamate in certain areas of their brain. Reduced glutamate levels have been strongly linked with schizophrenia in previous studies.

Researchers say their findings confirm that the DISC1 mutation is associated with a significantly increased risk of psychiatric illness.

They hope that continuing to study people with the mutation will reveal new insights to the biological mechanisms that underpin these conditions.

The DISC1 mutation was first identified in a Scottish family that showed unusually high rates of major psychiatric disorders. Scientists have been studying generations of the family for 40 years but this is the first time they have scanned their brains.

The study appears in the journal Schizophrenia.

Professor Stephen Lawrie, head of the Division of Psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh, said:

“This study confirms and extends the genetics of DISC1, and shows how that and similar genetic effects can increase the risk of major mental illnesses.”

Source: University of Edinburg

Changes in Specific Gene May Up Risk of Some Mental Illnesses

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). Changes in Specific Gene May Up Risk of Some Mental Illnesses. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 17, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/08/16/changes-in-specific-gene-may-up-risk-of-some-mental-illnesses/108643.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 16 Aug 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Aug 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.