Schizophrenia: New discovery lifts the veil on the origins of the disorder

A recent study sheds light on what might cause schizophrenia.

According to reports from NICE, schizophrenia affects 14.5 per 1,000 people in the UK, and there is currently insufficient research accessible to better comprehend this condition.

Schizophrenia symptoms vary greatly: they might include delusions and hallucinations, but they are not limited to that. It can also cause social disengagement and cognitive impairments.

A region of the brain identified

The disease's causes are now thought to be partially hereditary, with specific genes favouring its occurrence. Research published in the scientific journal Nature Communications on 10 February provided insight on the origins of the condition by pinpointing the area of the brain implicated.

A mutation in the gene coding for the SAP97 protein is now the most major risk factor for acquiring the condition. Carrying this mutation would put you at a 40% higher risk. This protein is hypothesized to have a role in the functioning of synapses, which are the areas where two neurons or a neuron and another cell communicate. However, the investigation of SAP97's role in schizophrenia is complicated by this ambiguity.

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Glutamate, the heart of the problem

The involvement of SAP97 was the topic of a study published in Nature Communications by the University of Southern California. The hippocampus, which is involved in episodic memory, is bordered by this area.

Rats with an aberrant version of SAP97 had extremely high amounts of glutamate, a neurotransmitter involved in glutaminergic transmission, according to the researchers.

Everyday Health has termed glutamate as 'a neurotransmitter that sends signals in the brain and throughout the nerves in the body.'

The periodic memory of rats is disrupted by abnormal glutamate levels, which is one of the key problems of schizophrenia.

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