Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A new analysis suggests that schizophrenia may be caused by an interaction of genes and viruses in glia cells

29.07.2002


A report in the open access journal BMC Psychiatry presents a new hypothesis that may explain the causes of the psychiatric disease, schizophrenia. The hypothesis hinges on glia, a special type of cell, which is important for the maintenance of the connections between brain cells. By re-examining previously published research the authors suggest that schizophrenia may be caused by a combination of defective genes, which result in deficiencies of a variety of growth factors in glia, and infection by viruses, which may further weaken the glia. They conclude that this "weakening" of glia may result in the breakdown of connections between different brain cells leading to the development of schizophrenia.



Schizophrenia is a severe disabling psychiatric disease, which affects approximately 1 percent of the population. People with schizophrenia often suffer terrifying symptoms such as hearing internal voices, feelings of extreme paranoia and an inability to distinguish reality from fantasy. It is clear that schizophrenia has a strong genetic component, however analysis of individual genes alone will not give us a full understanding the causes of schizophrenia.

Irving Gottesman, one of the authors of this paper and originator of the now widely accepted polygenic model of schizophrenia explains,


"The investigation of individual genes in isolation has its limitations since virtually all important biological phenomena, from normal brain functioning to schizophrenia, are the result of complex systems. What is needed is a systems approach for understanding the development of schizophrenia."

This insight motivated Gottesman, and his colleagues Hans Moises and Tomas Zoega, to apply such an approach to previously published results of schizophrenia research.

Human brains are made up of two main types of cells, nerve cells, which carry electrical impulses around the brain and glia, which are important for the normal development of the brain in the young and the maintenance of nerve connections in adults. The authors argue that many of the genes implicated in the development of schizophrenia code for factors involved in the development of glia cells. In addition they hypothesize that some viral infections may cause additional weakening of glial cells, which in turn may lead to the disruption of brain cell connections and the development of schizophrenia.

"Epidemiological data indicate that all humans must harbor viruses in the glial cells of their brains, and since reproduction is a necessity for these viruses to survive, it seems reasonable to presume that they are reproducing at low levels in glial cells and that this results in an additional weakening of glial functioning", explains Moises.

This new provocative hypothesis bridges the gap between several previously unrelated schizophrenia hypotheses, most notably the genetic, the neurodevelopmental and the virus hypotheses, thereby providing a unifying explanation for the development of schizophrenia. It is hoped that by testing this hypothesis in the laboratory, researchers will come up with new ways of treating this debilitating brain disease.

The new hypothesis is freely available in the peer-reviewed open access journal BMC Psychiatry

Gordon Fletcher | BioMed Central Limited
Further information:
http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-244X/2/8/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis
23.01.2017 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Team discovers how bacteria exploit a chink in the body's armor
20.01.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>