Schizophrenia Research Forum - A Catalyst for Creative Thinking

Mixed Message: 15q13.3 Deletions Confer Risk, But for What?

19 January 2009. A new study led by the EPICURE Integrated Project, a European research consortium devoted to unraveling the genomics and neurobiology of epilepsy, has linked microdeletions in 15q13.3 with idiopathic generalized epilepsies (IGEs), seizure disorders that comprise up to one-third of all epilepsy cases.

Deletions in the same region have recently been associated with schizophrenia (see SRF related news story), but deletion carriers identified in the EPICURE study have no history of psychosis, and the deletion was also seen in unaffected relatives of probands with epilepsy. The wide phenotypic range reported in these studies mirrors that seen in other analyses of copy-number variations (CNVs) and presents a challenge to the common disease/common variant hypothesis that has guided most genomic research to date (see SRF related news story and Q&A with Evan Eichler and Heather Mefford [also authors on the EPICURE paper] regarding their work on CNVs in 1q21.1). The study appears in the January 11 online edition of Nature Genetics, with Thomas Sander of the University of Cologne, Germany, as corresponding author.

The 15q13–q14 region had previously been implicated in epilepsy in linkage studies (Neubauer et al., 1998; Elmslie et al., 1997; Sander et al., 2000) that proposed a pathogenic role for mutations in the CHRNA4 and CHRNA7 genes in this region, which code for the α4 and α7 subunits of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (see SRF related news story for a review of current thinking on cholinergic receptors and schizophrenia). More recently, Andrew Sharp, Mefford, Eichler, and colleagues at the University of Washington associated a 1.5 Mb microdeletion in the 15q13.3 region, which includes CHRNA7 and six other genes, with a syndrome characterized by mental retardation and seizures (Sharp et al., 2008).

In the new study, first author Ingo Helbig and the EPICURE team looked for the same 1.5 Mb deletion in DNA samples from 1,223 individuals with IGE and 3,699 ancestrally matched controls, and found the deletion in 12 (1 percent) of the IGE cases (including one case with an overlapping 3.8 mb deletion) but in none of the controls. The prevalence of this structural variant in the general population has been estimated at 0.02 percent, so the EPICURE study suggests that the deletion is 50 times more common in those with IGE.

However, as in earlier CNV studies, this clear conclusion is muddied by the mixed clinical picture of the probands’ relatives. In one case, the 15q13.3 deletion was de novo. In four other cases for which parental DNA was available, the deletion was inherited, yet no seizure disorders were reported in the affected parents. Three siblings who carried the deletion suffered from IGE, and a fourth had severe intellectual disability with no history of seizures. Moreover, as noted above, no psychosis was reported in any proband, and most showed none of the other phenotypes that have also been associated with the 15q13.3 deletion, which include mental retardation, autism, growth retardation, and dysmorphic features.

Surveying the recent literature, the authors write, “Taken together, the current studies reveal extensive variability in the phenotypic manifestation associated with the 15q13.3 deletion, ranging from apparently healthy individuals to severely affected individuals with a broad spectrum of neuropsychiatric disorders.... These findings...argue for a new framework for understanding complex genetic diseases.”—Pete Farley.

Reference:
Helbig I, Mefford HC, Sharp AJ, Guipponi M, Fichera M, Franke A, Muhle H, de Kovel C, Baker C, von Spiczak S, Kron KL, Steinich I, Kleefuß-Lie AA, Leu C, Gaus V, Schmitz B, Klein KM, Reif PS, Rosenow F, Weber Y, Lerche H, Zimprich F, Urak L, Fuchs K, Feucht M, Genton P, Thomas P, Visscher F, de Haan GJ, Møller RS, Hjalgrim H, Luciano D, Wittig M, Nothnagel M, Elger CE, Nürnberg P, Romano C, Malafosse A, Koeleman BP, Lindhout D, Stephani U, Schreiber S, Eichler EE, Sander T. 15q13.3 microdeletions increase risk of idiopathic generalized epilepsy. Nat Genet. 2009 Jan 11. Abstract

Comments on News and Primary Papers
Comment by:  Ben Pickard
Submitted 21 January 2009
Posted 21 January 2009

Before Christmas, an insightful discussion between SRF's Pete Farley and researchers Heather Mefford and Evan Eichler delved into the complex interplay between genotype (copy number variant status at 1q21.1) and phenotype (psychiatric illness, autism, mental retardation, and congenital abnormalities) (see SRF related news story). The upshot was that although deletions at this locus were statistically associated with pathologies, the severity and nature of those pathologies was extremely variable. This raised questions about whether researchers and clinicians should focus on the disease or the deletion, and what the mechanisms that determine the clinical endpoint might be. This is becoming a clear trend. Another CNV region at 16p11.2 has also been variously associated with both autism and schizophrenia. Deletions of just a single gene, CNTNAP2, as opposed to a gene cluster, have also shown this phenomenon of variable phenotype expression—deletion carriers have been diagnosed with autism, Gilles de la Tourette/obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia/epilepsy, or remain entirely healthy (Bakkaloglu et al., 2008; Friedman et al., 2008; Verkerk et al., 2003; Belloso et al., 2007).

In the same vein, this new paper by Helbig and colleagues describes yet another example of a discrete copy number variant (microdeletion) that was originally linked with psychiatric phenotypes but is now also shown to give rise to idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE). The deletion is at 15q13.3, which encompasses the candidate neurotransmitter receptor gene, CHRNA7, among others. In fact, with a frequency of 1 percent in the IGE population and absence in controls, the deletion is the strongest genetic risk factor for this condition and is more prevalent in IGE than in either mental retardation or schizophrenia.

Although the study of CNVs has highlighted this genotype-phenotype issue, it has been observed previously in the context of the overlap of linkage hotspots between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (Berrettini, 2003), in case-control association studies linking the same gene to multiple disorders (Chubb et al., 2008), and in the case of the Scottish family with the t(1;11) translocation disrupting DISC1, in which carrier phenotypes ranged from healthy to major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia (Blackwood et al., 2001).

So we are now faced with complex genetic disorders that really live up to their name. As such, two particular issues warrant further discussion.

The first issue is that clinicians seem to observe discrete rather than continuous disorder phenotypes. Despite the current diagnostic manuals leaving little room for diagnostic leeway, it seems that the majority of case phenotypes tend toward a limited number of outcomes such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, mental retardation, autism, and epilepsy. Moreover, no psychiatrist can distinguish DISC1 schizophrenia from 1q21.1 schizophrenia or NRG1 schizophrenia without recourse to genetic methodologies, suggesting that there is a positive biological drive towards the endpoint. To borrow what may be a useful analogy from physics, the system is “chaotic” (in terms of its genetic input and its effect on cellular biology) but tends toward “strange attractors” (a limited set of diagnoses) [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attractor]. Why might this be so? It may be that there are several higher order functional bottlenecks within the brain such as synaptic transmission efficiency, cortical development, astrocyte/oligodendrocyte function, hippocampal neurogenesis, higher order communication between brain regions, etc. These act to “sum” the expected environmental, genetic, and cellular complexity present within an individual and transform it into a limited set of potential outcomes—in essence, these are the strange attractors.

The next issue is how the same mutation can give rise to two (or more) different conditions. It may be useful to think of the Knudson “two-hit” hypothesis of cancer in which environment and other genetic factors act subsequent to a “deep” genetic fault (Knudson, 1971).

The CNV examples above may represent such fundamental disruptions and most probably impinge on neurodevelopmental pathways, priming the brain to be tipped over the threshold into a disease state. In fact, the t(1:11) translocation carriers present evidence for such a phenomenon as both healthy and affected carriers show abnormal P300 brain response activities suggesting this endophenotype highlights an underlying brain dysfunction (Blackwood et al., 2001).

We have to postulate that the additional genetic or environmental influences (modifiers) not only determine entry into the disease state but also dictate the final outcome. Possible candidates for modifiers of the deletions above are the remaining single copy alleles at the CNV locus—exposed recessive mutations, imprinting, or epigenetic modification could all alter expressivity and penetrance of the deletion phenotype. However, limited studies by Eichler’s group seem to discount this possibility (Mefford et al., 2008).

In any case, genomewide association and CNV studies suggest that there is plenty of scope for a sufficient burden of genetic modifiers outside the CNV region. This may also fit in with the seemingly disparate concepts of rare/familial variants exposed by linkage and common/low odds ratio variants revealed by association. Both act causally with the former potentially acting as the “first hit.”

As time progresses, we will move towards the definition of the range of phenotypes potentially resulting from each genotype and the spectrum of genotypes causing each phenotype. CNVs represent a pretty blunt tool to dissect finer relationships between genotype and phenotype, so it is to be expected that rare but penetrant point mutations that emerge from resequencing projects will be of greater use in dissecting function-phenotype links—as has been seen with the connexin gene family, for example (Rabionet et al., 2002).

In summary, it is to be hoped that the clinical and research communities are able to embrace these complexities for what they offer—a deeper understanding of these disorders, one that is intimately linked to the development and function of the brain.

References:

Bakkaloglu B, O'roak BJ, Louvi A, Gupta AR, Abelson JF, Morgan TM, Chawarska K, Klin A, Ercan-Sencicek AG, Stillman AA, Tanriover G, Abrahams BS, Duvall JA, Robbins EM, Geschwind DH, Biederer T, Gunel M, Lifton RP, State MW. Molecular cytogenetic analysis and resequencing of contactin associated protein-like 2 in autism spectrum disorders. Am J Hum Genet. 2008 Jan 1;82(1):165-73. Abstract

Friedman JI, Vrijenhoek T, Markx S, Janssen IM, van der Vliet WA, Faas BH, Knoers NV, Cahn W, Kahn RS, Edelmann L, Davis KL, Silverman JM, Brunner HG, van Kessel AG, Wijmenga C, Ophoff RA, Veltman JA. CNTNAP2 gene dosage variation is associated with schizophrenia and epilepsy. Mol Psychiatry. 2008 Mar 1;13(3):261-6. Abstract

Verkerk AJ, Mathews CA, Joosse M, Eussen BH, Heutink P, Oostra BA, . CNTNAP2 is disrupted in a family with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder. Genomics. 2003 Jul 1;82(1):1-9. Abstract

Belloso JM, Bache I, Guitart M, Caballin MR, Halgren C, Kirchhoff M, Ropers HH, Tommerup N, Tümer Z. Disruption of the CNTNAP2 gene in a t(7;15) translocation family without symptoms of Gilles de la Tourette syndrome. Eur J Hum Genet. 2007 Jun 1;15(6):711-3. Abstract

Berrettini W. Evidence for shared susceptibility in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Am J Med Genet C Semin Med Genet. 2003 Nov 15;123C(1):59-64. Abstract

Chubb JE, Bradshaw NJ, Soares DC, Porteous DJ, Millar JK. The DISC locus in psychiatric illness. Mol Psychiatry. 2008 Jan 1;13(1):36-64. Abstract

Blackwood DH, Fordyce A, Walker MT, St Clair DM, Porteous DJ, Muir WJ. Schizophrenia and affective disorders--cosegregation with a translocation at chromosome 1q42 that directly disrupts brain-expressed genes: clinical and P300 findings in a family. Am J Hum Genet. 2001 Aug 1;69(2):428-33. Abstract

Knudson AG. Mutation and cancer: statistical study of retinoblastoma. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1971 Apr 1;68(4):820-3. Abstract

Mefford HC, Sharp AJ, Baker C, Itsara A, Jiang Z, Buysse K, Huang S, Maloney VK, Crolla JA, Baralle D, Collins A, Mercer C, Norga K, de Ravel T, Devriendt K, Bongers EM, de Leeuw N, Reardon W, Gimelli S, Bena F, Hennekam RC, Male A, Gaunt L, Clayton-Smith J, Simonic I, Park SM, Mehta SG, Nik-Zainal S, Woods CG, Firth HV, Parkin G, Fichera M, Reitano S, Lo Giudice M, Li KE, Casuga I, Broomer A, Conrad B, Schwerzmann M, Räber L, Gallati S, Striano P, Coppola A, Tolmie JL, Tobias ES, Lilley C, Armengol L, Spysschaert Y, Verloo P, De Coene A, Goossens L, Mortier G, Speleman F, van Binsbergen E, Nelen MR, Hochstenbach R, Poot M, Gallagher L, Gill M, McClellan J, King MC, Regan R, Skinner C, Stevenson RE, Antonarakis SE, Chen C, Estivill X, Menten B, Gimelli G, Gribble S, Schwartz S, Sutcliffe JS, Walsh T, Knight SJ, Sebat J, Romano C, Schwartz CE, Veltman JA, de Vries BB, Vermeesch JR, Barber JC, Willatt L, Tassabehji M, Eichler EE. Recurrent rearrangements of chromosome 1q21.1 and variable pediatric phenotypes. N Engl J Med. 2008 Oct 16;359(16):1685-99. Abstract

Rabionet R, López-Bigas N, Arbonès ML, Estivill X. Connexin mutations in hearing loss, dermatological and neurological disorders. Trends Mol Med. 2002 May 1;8(5):205-12. Abstract

View all comments by Ben Pickard

Comments on Related News


Related News: More Evidence for CNVs in Schizophrenia Etiology—Jury Still Out on Practical Implications

Comment by:  Christopher RossRussell L. Margolis
Submitted 1 August 2008
Posted 1 August 2008

The two recent papers in Nature, from the Icelandic group (Stefansson et al., 2008), and the International Schizophrenia Consortium (2008) led by Pamela Sklar, represent a landmark in psychiatric genetics. For the first time two large studies have yielded highly significant consistent results using multiple population samples. Furthermore, they arrived at these results using quite different methods. The Icelandic group used transmission screening and focused on de novo events, using the Illumina platform in both a discovery population and a replication population. By contrast, the ISC study was a large population-based case-control study using the Affymetrix platform, which did not specifically search for de novo events.

Both identified the same two regions on chromosome 1 and chromosome 15, as well as replicating the previously well studied VCFS region on chromosome 22. Thus, we now have three copy number variants which are replicated and consistent across studies. This provides data on rare highly penetrant variants complementary to the family based study of DISC1 (Porteous et al., 2006), in which the chromosomal translocation clearly segregates with disease, but in only one family. In addition, they are in general congruent with three other studies (Walsh et al., 2008; Kirov et al., 2008; Xu et al., 2008) which also demonstrate a role for copy number variation in schizophrenia. These studies together should put to rest many of the arguments about the value of genetics in psychiatry, so that future studies can now begin from a firmer base.

However, these studies also raise at least as many questions as they answer. One is the role of copy number variation in schizophrenia in the general population. The number of cases accounted for by the deletions on chromosome 1 and 15 in the ISC and Icelandic studies is extremely small--on the order of 1% or less. The extent to which copy number variation, including very rare or even private de novo variants, will account for the genetic risk for schizophrenia in the general population is still unknown. The ISC study indicated that there is a higher overall load of copy number variations in schizophrenia, broadly consistent with Walsh et al and Xu et al but backed up by a much larger sample size, allowing the results to achieve high statistical significance. The implications of these findings are still undeveloped,

Another issue is the relationship to the phenotype of schizophrenia in the general population. Many more genotype-phenotype studies will need to be done. It will be important to determine whether there is a higher rate of mental retardation in the schizophrenia in these studies than in other populations.

Another question is the relationship between these copy number variations (and other rare events) and the more common variants accounting for smaller increases in risk, as in the recent O’Donovan et al. (2008) association study in Nature Genetics. It is far too early to know, but there may well be some combination of rare mutations plus risk alleles that account for cases in the general population. This would then be highly reminiscent of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other diseases which have been studied for a longer period of time.

For instance, in Alzheimer’s disease there are rare mutations in APP and presenilin, as well as copy number variation in APP, with duplications causing the accelerated Alzheimer’s disease seen in Down syndrome. These appear to interact with the risk allele in APOE, and possibly other risk alleles, and are part of a pathogenic pathway (Tanzi and Bertram, 2005). Similarly in Parkinson’s disease, rare mutations in α-synuclein, LRRK2 and other genes can be causative of PD, though notably the G2019S mutation in LRRK2 has incomplete penetrance. In addition, duplications or triplications of α-synuclein can cause familial PD, and altered expression due to promoter variants may contribute to risk. By contrast, deletions in Parkin cause an early onset Parkinsonian syndrome (Hardy et al., 2006). Finally, much of PD may be due to genetic risk factors or environmental causes that have not yet been identified. Further studies will likely lead to the elucidation of pathogenic pathways. These diseases can provide a paradigm for the study of schizophrenia and other psychiatric diseases. One difference is that the copy number variations in the neurodegenerative diseases are often increases in copies (as in APP and α-synuclein), consistent with gain of function mechanisms, while the schizophrenia associations were predominantly with deletions, suggesting loss of function mechanisms. The hope is that as genes are identified, they can be linked together in pathways, leading to understanding of the neurobiology of schizophrenia (Ross et al., 2006).

The key unanswered questions, of course, are what genes or other functional domains are deleted at the chromosome 1, 15, and 22 loci, whether the deletions at these loci are sufficient in themselves to cause schizophrenia, and, if sufficient, the extent to which the deletions are penetrant. Both of the current studies identified deletions large enough to include several genes. The hope is that at least a subset of copy number variations (unlike SNP associations identified in schizophrenia to date) may be causative, making the identification of the relevant genes or other functional domains—at least in principle—more feasible.

Another tantalizing observation is that the copy number variations associated with schizophrenia were defined by flanking repeat regions. This raises the question of the extent to which undetected smaller insertions, deletions or other copy number variations related to other repetitive motifs, such as long tandem repeats, may also be associated with schizophrenia. Identification and testing of these loci may prove a fruitful approach to finding additional genetic risk factors for schizophrenia.

References:

Hardy J, Cai H, Cookson MR, Gwinn-Hardy K, Singleton A. Genetics of Parkinson's disease and parkinsonism. Ann Neurol. 2006 Oct;60(4):389-98. Abstract

Kirov G, Gumus D, Chen W, Norton N, Georgieva L, Sari M, O'Donovan MC, Erdogan F, Owen MJ, Ropers HH, Ullmann R. Comparative genome hybridization suggests a role for NRXN1 and APBA2 in schizophrenia. Hum Mol Genet . 2008 Feb 1 ; 17(3):458-65. Abstract

Porteous DJ, Thomson P, Brandon NJ, Millar JK. The genetics and biology of DISC1—an emerging role in psychosis and cognition. Biol Psychiatry. 2006 Jul 15;60(2):123-31. Abstract

Ross CA, Margolis RL, Reading SA, Pletnikov M, Coyle JT. Neurobiology of schizophrenia. Neuron. 2006 Oct 5;52(1):139-53. Abstract

Singleton A, Myers A, Hardy J. The law of mass action applied to neurodegenerative disease: a hypothesis concerning the etiology and pathogenesis of complex diseases. Hum Mol Genet. 2004 Apr 1;13 Spec No 1:R123-6. Abstract

Tanzi RE, Bertram L. Twenty years of the Alzheimer's disease amyloid hypothesis: a genetic perspective. Cell. 2005 Feb 25;120(4):545-55. Abstract

Walsh T, McClellan JM, McCarthy SE, Addington AM, Pierce SB, Cooper GM, Nord AS, Kusenda M, Malhotra D, Bhandari A, Stray SM, Rippey CF, Roccanova P, Makarov V, Lakshmi B, Findling RL, Sikich L, Stromberg T, Merriman B, Gogtay N, Butler P, Eckstrand K, Noory L, Gochman P, Long R, Chen Z, Davis S, Baker C, Eichler EE, Meltzer PS, Nelson SF, Singleton AB, Lee MK, Rapoport JL, King MC, Sebat J. Rare structural variants disrupt multiple genes in neurodevelopmental pathways in schizophrenia. Science. 2008 Apr 25;320(5875):539-43. Abstract

Xu B, Roos JL, Levy S, van Rensburg EJ, Gogos JA, Karayiorgou M. Strong association of de novo copy number mutations with sporadic schizophrenia. Nat Genet. 2008 Jul;40(7):880-5. Abstract

View all comments by Christopher Ross
View all comments by Russell L. Margolis

Related News: More Evidence for CNVs in Schizophrenia Etiology—Jury Still Out on Practical Implications

Comment by:  Daniel Weinberger, SRF Advisor
Submitted 3 August 2008
Posted 3 August 2008

Several recent reports have suggested that rare CNVs may be highly penetrant genetic factors in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia, perhaps even singular etiologic events in those cases of schizophrenia who have them. This is potentially of enormous importance, as the definitive identification of such a “causative” factor may be a major step in unraveling the biologic mystery of the condition. I would stress several issues that need to be considered in putting these recent findings into a broader perspective.

It is very difficult to attribute illness to a private CNV, i.e., one found only in a single individual. This point has been potently illustrated by a study of clinically discordant MZ twins who share CNVs (Bruder et al., AJHG, 2008). Inherited CNVs, such as those that made up almost all of the CNVs described in the childhood onset cases of the study by Walsh et al. (Science, 2008), are by definition not highly penetrant (since they are inherited from unaffected parents). The finding by Xu et al. (Nat Gen, 2008) that de novo (i.e., non-inherited) CNVs are much more likely to be associated with cases lacking a family history is provocative but difficult to interpret as no data are given about the size of the families having a family history and those not having such a history. Unless these family samples are of comparable size and obtained by a comparable ascertainment strategy, it is hard to know how conclusive the finding is. Indeed, in the study of Walsh et al., rare CNVs were just as likely to be found in patients with a positive family history. Finally, in contrast to private CNVs, recurrent (but still rare) CNVs, such as those identified on 1q and 15q in the studies of the International Schizophrenia Consortium (Nature, 2008) and Stefansson et al. (Nature, 2008), are strongly implicated as being associated with the diagnosis of schizophrenia and therefore likely involved in the causation of the illnesses in the cases having these CNVs. In all, these new CNV regions, combined with the VCFS region on 22q, suggest that approximately five to 10 patients out of 1,000 who carry the diagnosis of schizophrenia may have a well-defined genetic lesion (i.e., a substantial deletion or duplication).

The overarching question now is how relevant these findings are to the other 99 percent of individuals with this diagnosis who do not have these recurrent CNVs. Before we had the capability to perform high-density DNA hybridization and SNP array analyses, chromosomal anomalies associated with the diagnosis of schizophrenia were identified using cytogenetic techniques. Indeed, VCFS, XXX, XXY (Kleinfelter’s syndrome), and XO (Turner syndrome) have been found with similarly increased frequency in cases with this diagnosis in a number of studies. Now that we have greater resolution to identify smaller structural anomalies, the list of congenital syndromes that increase the possibility that people will manifest symptoms that earn them this diagnosis appears to be growing rapidly. Are we finding causes for the form of schizophrenia that most psychiatrists see in their offices, or are we instead carving out a new set of rare congenital syndromes that share some clinical characteristics, as syphilis was carved out from the diagnosis of schizophrenia at the turn of the twentieth century? Is schizophrenia a primary expression of these anomalies or a secondary manifestation? VCFS is associated with schizophrenia-like phenomena but even more often with mild mental retardation, autism spectrum, and other psychiatric manifestations. The same is true of the aneuploidies that increase the probability of manifesting schizophrenia symptoms. The two new papers in Nature allude to the possibility that epilepsy and intellectual limitations may also be associated with these CNVs. The diagnostic potential of any of these new findings cannot be determined until the full spectrum of their clinical manifestations is clarified.

One of the important insights that might emerge from identification of these new CNV syndromes is the identification of candidate genes that may show association with schizophrenia based on SNPs in these regions. VCFS has been an important source of promising candidate genes with broader clinical relevance (e.g., PRODH, COMT). Stefansson et al. report, however, that none of the 319 SNPs in the CNV regions showed significant association with schizophrenia in quite a large sample of individuals not having deletions in these regions. The Consortium report also presumably has the results of SNP association testing in these regions in their large sample but did not report them. It is very important to explore in greater genetic detail these regions of the genome showing association with the diagnosis of schizophrenia in samples lacking these lesions and to fully characterize the clinical picture of individuals who have them. It is hoped that insights into the pathogenesis of symptoms related to this diagnosis will emerge from these additional studies.

Anyone who has worked in a public state hospital or chronic schizophrenia care facility (where I spent over 20 years) is not surprised to find an occasional patient with a rare congenital or acquired syndrome who expresses symptoms similar to those individuals also diagnosed with schizophrenia who do not have such rare syndromes. Our diagnostic procedures are not precise, and the symptoms that earn someone this diagnosis are not specific. Schizophrenia is not something someone has; it is a diagnosis someone is given. In an earlier comment for SRF on structural variations in the genome related to autism, I suggested that, “From a genetic point of view, autism is a syndrome that can be reached from many directions, along many paths. It is not likely that autism is any more of a discrete disease entity than say, blindness or mental retardation.” These new CNV syndromes manifesting schizophrenia phenomena are probably a reminder that the same is true of what we call schizophrenia.

View all comments by Daniel Weinberger

Related News: Neuroscience 2008—Cholinergic Neurons in Schizophrenia: Nicotinic and Muscarinic Approaches

Comment by:  Elizabeth Scarr
Submitted 13 January 2009
Posted 14 January 2009

Firstly, I'd like to say how much I appreciated being able to get a precis on my area of interest from a conference I was unable to attend—it's a great concept. Thanks to Tony for producing it.

In answer to the question as to whether there is a CHRNA7 agonist/5-HT3 antagonist available: Tropisetron is such a compound. It was shown to reduce P50 deficits in 17 of 19 patients with schizophrenia (Koike et al., 2005). The authors made no reference to any other parameters and I haven't heard of any other studies using it.

References:

Koike K, Hashimoto K, Takai N et al. Tropisetron improves deficits in auditory P50 suppression in schizophrenia. Schizophr Res. 76(1), 67-72 (2005). Abstract

View all comments by Elizabeth Scarr