Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook


Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis: The Who, the What, the Why and the How


 

Deficient diet linked to schizophrenia symptoms in mice

11 September 2017

By Annabel Slater

Appeared in BioNews 917

Mice deprived of two essential fatty acids during pregnancy gave birth to pups with schizophrenia-like symptoms, shows a new study.

The pups showed altered expression of genes involved in brain development. The scientists were also able to reverse these epigenetic changes and reduce symptoms using a drug.

'Our work is the first in the field of psychiatry to identify a molecular [mechanism] that links nutritional environment to disease risk,' said first author Dr Motoko Maekawa of the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Tokyo, Japan.

Schizophrenia is a highly complex disorder that arises from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.  Previous studies have linked two essential fatty acids, omega-3 (DHA) and omega-6 (AA), to schizophrenia. These fatty acids, which can only be obtained from food, are concentrated in the brain and affect its development.

The scientists discovered pregnant mice deprived of DHA and AA produced offspring with schizophrenia-like symptoms, including depression, lower motivation, and impaired memory. When they examined the prefrontal cortex of the schizophrenia-like adult mice, they found reduced expression of genes which code for nuclear receptors, a class of protein important for triggering protein-building in cells. The scientists also discovered reduced expression in genes linked to the GABA neurotransmitter, a chemical involved in brain signalling, and in genes linked to oligodendrocyte cells, which help facilitate neuron communication.

When they gave the mice a drug to upregulate the nuclear receptor genes, the oligodendrocyte and GABA genes were also upregulated, and some behaviours were reduced.

'This was evidence that drugs acting on nuclear receptors can be a new therapy for schizophrenia,' said Dr Maekawa.

The researchers also examined hair follicles from two groups of schizophrenia patients, and found reduced expression of the same nuclear receptor genes.

'The next step is to test the effectiveness of drugs that target these nuclear receptors in patients with schizophrenia, and to investigate how nuclear receptors regulate the function of oligodendrocytes and GABAergic neurons to prevent the development of schizophrenic pathophysiology,' said Dr Maekawa.

The study was published in Translational Psychiatry.

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

24 October 2016 - by Isobel Steer 
Scientists using a new 3D chromosome-mapping technique have uncovered a genetic connection between schizophrenia and early fetal brain development ...
10 October 2016 - by Dr Ashley Cartwright 
A person's 'epigenetic age' can predict how long they will live, according to a study of over 13,000 individuals...
21 March 2016 - by Sarah Gregory 
A rare mutation in a single gene increases the risk of schizophrenia by 35 times, a new study has found...
01 September 2015 - by Lubna Ahmed 
A recent study by researchers in Canada has found that people who are genetically susceptible to low vitamin-D levels are at a higher risk of multiple sclerosis...
01 September 2015 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
Genetic expression adjustments linked to stress and trauma may be inherited by children, a study has claimed. The findings may support the view that the effects of life experiences on gene expression could be passed on to the next generation...

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


- click here to enquire about using this story.

Published by the Progress Educational Trust

CROSSING FRONTIERS

Moving the Boundaries of Human Reproduction

Public Conference
London
8 December 2017

Speakers include

Professor Azim Surani

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge

Sally Cheshire

Professor Guido Pennings

Katherine Littler

Professor Richard Anderson

Dr Sue Avery

Dr Elizabeth Garner

Professor Allan Pacey

Dr Anna Smajdor

Dr Andy Greenfield

Philippa Taylor

Dr César Palacios-González

Fiona Fox

Sarah Norcross

EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT
if you book now


BOOK HERE

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation