UC San Diego Receives $4 Million to Study Accelerated Aging, Schizophrenia

The University of California, San Diego, has recently announced that its Stein Institute for Research on Aging has been awarded a $4 million National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) grant to study accelerated aging in schizophrenic patients.

While the most prominent, debilitating symptoms of schizophrenia are mental and behavioral, scientists have long noticed that the disease also has profound effects on patients' physical health. These effects often entail changes to physiological functions that typically appear in much older people. For example, young people with schizophrenia are more likely to exhibit signs of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, conditions that are typically seen in older individuals.

Grant will facilitate study of physiological health

The NIMH grant will allow Stein Institute researchers to conduct a five year study following over 250 schizophrenia patients as their bodies respond to the disease. Using a series of medical and psychiatric interviews, the team will attempt to determine whether the shorter life expectancies of schizophrenia patients (sometimes as much as 20 to 25 years shorter) result from secondary causes, like suicide or lack of access to care, or whether there is a more direct connection between the disease and the patient's physiological health.

One of the more promising areas of aging research the team will focus on is in DNA telomeres, which protect genetic material from degradation as it replicates and which have long been implicated in the progression of aging. The team will also examine biomarkers associated with insulin dysregulation, oxidative stress, systemic inflammation, and cellular aging. Finally, the Stein Institute team will look into the long-term effects of drug accumulation on the body.

Source: The University of California, San Diego

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