Genes that may increase the risk of schizophrenia


Schizophrenia is one of the most serious mental illnesses. It occurs in about 1 in 100 people and affects the way you think, feels,s and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem out of touch with reality, which can be distressing for them and their families.

A study from the Department of Psychiatry, Genetics and Genomic Sciences, Neuroscience and Neurosurgery at Icahn Mount Sinai investigated the risk of schizophrenia in various populations, particularly those of African descent, finding the two risk genes, SRRM2 and AKAP11. To do this, they compared the genetic sequences of people with schizophrenia with those of healthy controls. The meta-analysis included existing data sets totaling up to 35,828 cases and 107,877 controls.

Studying people of diverse ancestral origins, they found that rare deleterious variants in evolutionarily constrained genes confer a similar magnitude of schizophrenia risk among these different populations, and that genetic factors previously established in predominantly white people have now been extended to nonwhites for this debilitating disease.

The third gene noted in the study, PCLO, was previously implicated in schizophrenia but is now identified as a shared risk for schizophrenia and autism.

The researchers caution that not all patients have a rare deleterious variant in the identified schizophrenia genes. The disease is multifactorial.

Next, they plan to assess whether and how these genes may have a clinical role and whether they may be linked to a specific behavior or symptom of schizophrenia. They will also work to identify drugs that can target the study genes.