This is a remarkable achievement. If we can translate this research to clinical settings, we may be able to gently nudge fibroblast cultures collected from people with schizophrenia into expressing neuronal phenotypes (and then compare with similar tissue from healthy controls). To date, studies based on fibroblast cultures from patients with schizophrenia have found mixed results. While one has been disappointing with respect to gene expression (Matigian et al., 2008), others have found convergent evidence for altered cell cycle properties (Wang et al., 2010; Catts et al., 2006).
If the new technology can be used in adult human fibroblast tissue, the resultant neural cultures may provide us with glimpses into dysfunctional pathways associated with schizophrenia.
Matigian NA, McCurdy RD, Féron F, Perry C, Smith H, Filippich C, McLean D, McGrath J, Mackay-Sim A, Mowry B, Hayward NK. Fibroblast and lymphoblast gene expression profiles in schizophrenia: are non-neural cells informative? PLoS One . 2008 Jan 1 ; 3(6):e2412. Abstract
Wang L, Lockstone HE, Guest PC, Levin Y, Palotás A, Pietsch S, Schwarz E, Rahmoune H, Harris LW, Ma D, Bahn S. Expression profiling of fibroblasts identifies cell cycle abnormalities in schizophrenia. J Proteome Res. 2010 Jan;9(1):521-7. Abstract
Catts VS, Catts SV, McGrath JJ, Feron F, McLean D, Coulson E, Lutze-Mann LH. (2006) Apoptosis and schizophrenia: A pilot study based on dermal fibroblast cell lines. Schizophrenia Research, 84 (1); 20-28. Abstract
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