Psychiatric illnesses share similar gene activity

The study, published last week inside journal Science, looked at gene products — otherwise known as messenger RNA — in over 800 human brains donated via people with psychiatric illnesses including autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression along with alcoholism, as well as control brains via people without the illnesses.

Researchers found in which there was a significant overlap of thousands of these genetic “signatures” among people diagnosed with certain psychiatric illnesses.

“All of these disorders have a genetic contribution to them in which’s quite substantial, along with yet in which contribution can be not simple. the item’s very complex,” said Dr. Daniel Geschwind, a neurogeneticist at the University of California at Los Angeles along having a lead author of the study.

Previous studies have identified genes shared among people with particular psychiatric disorders. nevertheless This kind of study went a step further by looking at the actual products of those genes, an indication of their relative activity.

“There does seem to be quite a bit there suggesting in which there can be perhaps more in common than we could have guessed,” said Dan Arking, a geneticist along with associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who was not directly involved inside fresh study.

“We had done a study a couple of years back where we looked at schizophrenia, bipolar along with autism, along with we saw an overlap between schizophrenia along with autism, nevertheless we didn’t see the item with bipolar so much,” Arking added.

Scientists confirm genetics of schizophrenia

The fresh study found in which four sets of genes were less active inside neurons of people diagnosed with autism, schizophrenia along with bipolar disorder.

nevertheless in astrocytes — supportive cells inside brain in which perform many functions, including maintenance of the synapses in which connect neighboring cells — one set of genes was overly expressed in all three disorders.

This kind of suggests in which these three disorders could stem via a shared dysfunction in how cells inside brain communicate with each different, according to Geschwind.

“Astrocytes have been long thought of as ‘supporting cells,’ nevertheless the item’s clear in which they play a critical role in what I’ll call homeostasis: the usual organization along with operation of the synaptic connectivity inside brain,” Geschwind said.

Scientists link 60 genes to autism risk

The study also found in which a different set of genes in cells called microglia were hyperactive in people with autism. Microglia are the immune cells of the central nervous system, clearing the brain of plaques, unnecessary neurons along with infectious agents like bacteria. They are also involved inside regulation of synapses during early development, which could explain why autism typically appears during childhood, Geschwind said.

Those with major depressive disorder also shared a common set of markers involved inside hormonal pathways inside brain.

“I could say in which depression has its own signature, to simplify the item,” Geschwind said. “Although globally the item overlaps somewhat with schizophrenia along with bipolar, the item also includes a component in which can be a dysregulation of hormonal signaling.”

To eliminate the possibility in which the differences were caused by different factors shared by the donors, such as the use of antipsychotic medications, the researchers compared the brain samples with those of nonhuman primates in which were treated with antipsychotic drugs. They did not find a significant positive overlap, meaning medication was probably not the cause of the differences in gene activity.

Insights gleaned via the study could help drive the development of treatments for numerous psychiatric disorders, according to Arking.

“Using This kind of approach to try to identify pathways can be potentially quite important because the item gives you more specific drug targets,” he said. “If This kind of pathway can be involved, I can give a drug in which affects the pathway along with not worry so much about finding a drug for each specific gene.”

Geschwind also sees the potential for fresh research into drug treatments coming out of This kind of study.

“If we could understand along with refine these patterns, we could use these patterns to find drugs in which reverse them,” he said.

nevertheless, he cautioned, the shared genetic markers were not found in all cases of each psychiatric disorder, leaving much room for environmental effects.

“the item’s very difficult to separate genetic via environmental factors here,” he added. “About half of the overlap can be strongly correlated with their genetic relationships, telling us in which their shared causal factors likely underlie their shared biology about 50% of the time.”

Psychiatric illnesses share similar gene activity

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