Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

In Search of Neurobiological Factors for Schizophrenia

09.08.2016

It is impossible to predict the onset of schizophrenic psychosis. If factors linked to a risk of psychosis can be identified, however, these may yield significant insights into its underlying mechanisms. Basel-based scientists have now established a link between particular genes and the size of important brain structures in individuals with an elevated risk of psychosis. The results of the study appear in the latest edition of the scientific journal Translational Psychiatry.

Schizophrenic psychoses are a frequently occurring group of psychiatric disorders caused by a combination of biological, social and environmental factors. These disorders are associated with changes to the brain structure: for example, the hippocampus in the temporal lobe is usually smaller in affected individuals than in healthy ones. It is not yet known whether these changes to the brain structure are a result of the disorders and their accompanying medications, or whether they are already present before the onset of symptoms.


Location of the hippocampus in the human brain: sagittal and axial view (from left to right) of the hippocampus (yellow) in an MRI.

Neuropsychiarty and Brain Imaging Group, Basel

Together with a research group from the University of Basel, Fabienne Harrisberger and Stefan Borgwardt examined the brain structures of individuals exhibiting an elevated risk of psychosis, and those of individuals experiencing the onset of psychotic symptoms for the first time.

Initially, scientists from the Adult Psychiatric Clinic of the University Psychiatric Clinics (UPK) and the Transfaculty Research Platform Molecular and Cognitive Neurosciences (MCN) observed no appreciable difference between the hippocampi of individuals at high risk and those of patients.

Next, together with scientists from the Transfaculty Research Platform, they investigated whether any known schizophrenia risk genes are associated with the hippocampus. This appears to be the case: the greater the number of risk genes a person possessed, the smaller the volume of their hippocampus – regardless of whether they were a high-risk study participant or a patient. This means that a group of risk genes is connected with a reduction in the size of a critical region of the brain before the disorder manifests itself.

Potential for differentiated therapy

This result is significant for the understanding of neurobiological factors contributing to schizophrenia. It is well-known that none of the wider risk factors (e.g. genes, environment, unfavorable social situation) can be used to predict the onset of psychosis in a specific individual. However, the discovery may be of use for the treatment of schizophrenia.

“It is quite possible that individuals with smaller hippocampi will react differently to therapy compared to those with normally developed hippocampi,” explains Prof. Stefan Borgwardt of the Neuropsychiatry and Brain Imaging Unit. Further studies to ascertain the therapeutic potential of this research are planned.

Original article

Fabienne Harrisberger, Renata Smieskova, Christian Vogler, Tobias Egli, André Schmidt, Claudia Lenz, Andor E Simon, Anita Riecher-Rössler, Andreas Papassotiropoulos, Stefan Borgwardt
Impact of polygenic schizophrenia-related risk and hippocampal volumes on the onset of psychosis
Translational Psychiatry (2016), doi: 10.1038/TP.2016.143

Further information

Prof. Dr. Stefan Borgwardt, University of Basel, Adult Psychiatric Clinic of the University Psychiatric Clinics (UPK), tel. +41 61 325 81 87, email: stefan.borgwardt@upkbs.ch
Prof. Dr. Andreas Papassotiropoulos, University of Basel, Transfaculty Research Platform Molecular and Cognitive Neurosciences, tel. +41 61 267 05 99, email: andreas.papas@unibas.ch

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.unibas.ch/en/News-Events/News/Uni-Research/In-Search-of-Neurobiologi...

Olivia Poisson | Universität Basel

Further reports about: Schizophrenia brain structure hippocampi psychosis

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Topologische Quantenchemie
21.07.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe

nachricht Topological Quantum Chemistry
21.07.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>