Monday, March 1, 2010

Toward an explanation for schizophrenia's timing

Researchers looked at patterns of gene expression in the brains of schizophrenic patients. Mostly they are they same as normal people, but:
the most surprising finding was a significant link between aging and gene expression patterns in schizophrenia. The team identified several groups of co-expressed genes that behaved differently in schizophrenia patients compared to normal subjects when age was considered.
A particularly striking age-related difference in co-expression was found in a group of 30 genes related to developmental processes of the nervous system. Normally these genes are turned off as a person ages, but in schizophrenia patients the genes remain active. This critical finding strongly suggests that age-related aberrant regulation of genes important for development can explain at least part of the manifestation of schizophrenia.
We're getting closer to figuring it out. And then we'll have to figure out how to turn those genes off when they should turn off.

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