March 5, 2013 (Toronto) Some of the dramatic differences seen among patients with schizophrenia may be explained by a single gene that regulates a group of other schizophrenia risk genes. These findings appear in a new imaging-genetics study from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
The study revealed that people with schizophrenia who had a particular version of the microRNA-137 gene (or MIR137), tended to develop the illness at a younger age and had distinct brain features both associated with poorer outcomes compared to patients who did not have this version. This work, led by Drs. Aristotle Voineskos and James Kennedy, appears in the latest issue of Molecular Psychiatry.
Treating schizophrenia is particularly challenging as the illness can vary from patient to patient. Some individuals stay hospitalized for years, while others respond well to treatment.
"What's exciting about this study is that we could have a legitimate answer as to why some of these differences occur," explained Dr. Voineskos, a clinician-scientist in CAMH's Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute. "In the future, we might have the capability of using this gene to tell us about prognosis and how a person might respond to treatment."
"Drs. Voineskos and Kennedy's findings are very important as they provide new insights into the genetic bases of this condition that affects thousands of Canadians and their families," said Dr. Anthony Phillips, Scientific Director at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction.
Also, until now, sex has been the strongest predictor of the age at which schizophrenia develops in individuals. Typically, women tend to develop the illness a few years later than men, and experience a milder form of the disease.
"We showed that this gene has a bigger effect on age-at-onset than one's gender has," said Dr. Voineskos, who heads
|Contact: Anita Dubey|
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health