Schizophrenia Linked To Genes That Enable Memories
Genes that enable memories and sense of direction were supposed to improve brain activity. However, a new study shows that mutations in these genes can result to imprecise communication between neurons. This greatly contributes to development of symptoms of schizophrenia. The researchers also found a way to develop new treatment for the disease.
Schizophrenia is a mental condition which affects up to 0.7 percent of the population. It also causes early death due to poor lifestyle and increased risk of other diseases. Researchers found out that reducing the amount of protein in the gene called TMEM108 translates to abnormalities in the communication of neurons. It results to impaired cognition and sense of direction.
In a study published in the journal PNAS, the researchers reduced protein levels in TMEM108 to about 20 percent of the normal level. The mice later exhibited pathophysiological mechanisms of schizophrenia. The manipulation of the gene resulted to fewer and smaller spines which is considered the communication fingers of the neurons. They then increased the levels of the proteins in the TMEM108 which resulted to healthier spines.
"We knew this gene's alteration likely contributed to schizophrenia. We wanted to better understand how," Lin Mei, chairman of the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Neuroscience in the Department of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University and an author of the study said according to Science Daily.
The researchers also highlighted the importance of TMEM108 in the expression of AMPA receptors. This link might lead to the development of new treatment for schizophrenia. Researchers tried to use drugs that increased AMPA receptor expression in the mice which resulted to more normal spine. "We hope we will find that healthy function is restored as well, which could translate to a new treatment target for this complex, disabling disease," Mei said.
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