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Mental Health

Schizophrenia Affects Brain's Communication Network

11 months, 3 weeks ago

2430  0
Posted on Nov 02, 2017, 3 p.m.

The mental illness schizophrenia disrupts the brain's entire communication network, a new study suggests.

(HealthDay News) -- The mental illness schizophrenia disrupts the brain's entire communication network, a new study suggests.

This research disputes a theory that schizophrenia is caused by wiring problems only in certain parts of the brain. The findings could help direct future research into the disorder that affects more than 21 million people worldwide, the researchers said.

"We can definitively say for the first time that schizophrenia is a disorder where white matter wiring is frayed throughout the brain," said study co-lead author Sinead Kelly, formerly a researcher at the Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine.

The study included a review of brain scans from more than 1,900 people worldwide with schizophrenia. The researchers analyzed the "white matter" -- the fatty brain tissue that enables brain cells (neurons) to talk to each other.

"Our study will help improve the understanding of the mechanisms behind schizophrenia, a mental illness that -- left untreated -- often leads to unemployment, homelessness, substance abuse and even suicide," Kelly said in a USC news release. She's now a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School.

"These findings could lead to the identification of biomarkers that enable researchers to test patients' response to schizophrenia treatment," Kelly added.

The causes of schizophrenia are unknown and current treatments for the disease target only the symptoms. Many patients need to take antipsychotic drugs for the rest of their lives, but the drugs can cause side effects such as significant weight gain, tremors, emotional numbing or extreme drowsiness.

Study co-lead author Neda Jahanshad is an assistant professor of neurology at USC/Keck. "Without this study, future research could have been misdirected. Rather than looking for genes that affect a certain 'stretch of wiring,' scientists will now look for genes that affect the brain's entire communication infrastructure," she said.

The study was published Oct. 17 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

“This is a great study. It does go against some standard thinking. Hopefully, people with schizophrenia will have a greater future outlook for more effective treatments,” said Dr. Ronald Klatz, President of the A4M.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more on schizophrenia.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Southern California, news release, Oct. 17, 2017

Dr. Ronald Klatz, DO, MD President of the A4M has 28,000 Physician Members, has trained over 150,000 Physicians, health professionals and scientists in the new specialty of Anti-aging medicine. Estimates of their patients numbering in the 100’s of millions World Wide that are living better stronger, healthier and longer lives.

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