Schizophrenia Gene Mutation May Also Be Responsible for Other Mental Illness

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University reported this week on findings from research on mice with a genetic mutation known to predispose humans to schizophrenia. To test the impact of environmental influences on embryonic mice, the researchers gave the mothers of the subject mice a drug that stimulated their immune system, causing an effect similar to a human mother being exposed to a virus or parasite late in her first trimester. Instead of developing schizophrenia, the newly-born mice went on to exhibit a poor response to stress, heightened anxiety, socialibility problems and symptoms similar to depression. These findings are consistent with findings in humans that showed extended family members of a family with the schizophrenia gene mutation often developed depressive disorders such as major depression and bipolar disorder. The subject mice also had a smaller hypothalamus and amygdala than a group of control mice who had the genetic mutation but whose mothers avoided immune system stimulation.

The relevance of this study for humans is that it provides further evidence of a long-running theory: that many illnesses are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Health maintenance during pregnancy is critically important for the growing fetus and pregnant women should take steps to avoid exposure to viruses, parasites and other contagious illnesses. Scientists at Johns Hopkins University plan to conduct further research based on these new findings.

Read more: http://newswire.ascribe.org/cgi-bin/behold.pl?ascribeid=20101203.054209&...

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