In a recently published study, researchers from across 45 countries analysed DNA from 76,755 people with schizophrenia and 43,649 without it to better understand the genes and biological processes underpinning the condition. The results appear in the journal Nature.
According to the study results, a total of 287 different regions of the genome linked to schizophrenia have been found, more than ever before.
The results showed that genetic risk for schizophrenia is seen in genes concentrated in neurons, but not in any other tissue or cell type, suggesting it is the biological role of these cells that is crucial in schizophrenia.
“Previous research has shown associations between schizophrenia and many anonymous DNA sequences, but rarely has it been possible to link the findings to specific genes,” said co-lead author Professor Michael O’Donovan, from the Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences at Cardiff University.
The team was able to identify 120 genes likely to contribute to the disorder. Although there are large numbers of genetic variants involved in schizophrenia, the study showed they are concentrated in genes expressed in neurons, pointing to these cells as the most important site of pathology.
The team hopes that the findings can be used to advance the understanding of the disorder and facilitate the development of new treatments.
Cardiff University. “Landmark study implicates specific genes in schizophrenia: Scientists analysed DNA from more than 300,000 people with and without the psychiatric disorder.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 April 2022.