A genetic variant increases the risk of developing schizophrenia in women

February 15, 2008

A complete scan of the human genome has revealed that a genetic variant in the Reelin gene increases the risk of developing schizophrenia in women only. Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Oxford, who conducted the study in the Ashkenazi Jewish population, confirmed their findings by establishing a multinational collaboration that included populations and researchers from the United Kingdom, Ireland, United States, and China. Their research is published in the February issue of the open-access journal PLoS Genetics.

Heritability of schizophrenia has been well established through epidemiological studies in past years. However, efforts to identify the genes associated with this devastating disease, which affects about 1% of the human population, have encountered significant difficulties. Technological advances that allow the complete and efficient scanning of the entire genome present a new opportunity to address this challenge.

The authors analyzed 500,000 genetic variants distributed across the whole human genome in DNA from patients with schizophrenia and control subjects. By comparing the genomes of hundreds of patients with schizophrenia with those of healthy controls across several human populations, the researchers identified a gene that significantly increases the risk of developing the disease, but interestingly in women only.

This study represents significant progress in the study of schizophrenia with possible practical implications in the areas of disease diagnosis and drug discovery. Nevertheless, it is important to stress that these possibilities will require many years of additional research, and even then, success cannot be guaranteed.

Citation: Shifman S, Johannesson M, Bronstein M, Chen SX, Collier DA, et al. (2008) Genome-wide association identifies a common variant in the reelin gene that increases the risk of schizophrenia only in women. PLoS Genet 4(2): e28. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0040028

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: Flow of potassium into cells implicated in schizophrenia

Related Stories

Flow of potassium into cells implicated in schizophrenia

May 6, 2009

A study on schizophrenia has implicated machinery that maintains the flow of potassium in cells and revealed a potential molecular target for new treatments. Expression of a previously unknown form of a key such potassium ...

Genetic variation cues social anxiety in monkeys and humans

January 14, 2009

A genetic variation involving the brain chemical serotonin has been found to shape the social behavior of rhesus macaque monkeys, which could provide researchers with a new model for studying autism, social anxiety and schizophrenia. ...

Seeing double (or triple) in genome sequencing

March 28, 2011

Identical twins have always been assumed to be exactly that – identical, right down to the genetic level. But a new study by University of Western Ontario molecular geneticist Shiva Singh and his colleagues say this ...

Stopping schizophrenia before it starts?

January 28, 2010

The onset of schizophrenia is not easy to predict. Although it is associated with as many as 14 genes in the human genome, the prior presence of schizophrenia in the family is not enough to determine whether one will succumb ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.