8 Genetically Distinct Disorders Linked to Schizophrenia

First Posted: Sep 15, 2014 06:47 PM EDT

Recent findings conducted by a team of researchers at Washington University of School of Medicine now suggest that schizophrenia can be linked to eight genetically distinct disorders that have their own unique symptoms.

"Genes don't operate by themselves. They function in concert much like an orchestra, and to understand how they're working, you have to know not just who the members of the orchestra are but how they interact," said C. Robert Cloninger, MD, PhD, one of the study's senior investigators, in a news release. "What we've done here, after a decade of frustration in the field of psychiatric genetics, is identify the way genes interact with each other, how the 'orchestra' is either harmonious and leads to health, or disorganized in ways that lead to distinct classes of schizophrenia."

For the study, researchers analyzed DNA variations in 4,200 people diagnosed with this chronic mental disorder that's characterized by difficulties differentiating between reality and fantasy, and in 3,800 people without the health issue. The team matched the DNA variations in people with and without the disease that acted as the control group.

Findings matched the DNA variations in people with and without the disease to various symptoms that showed up in each individual patient, totaling roughly 700,000 sites in the genome where one unit of DNA is changed, which is often called a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP).

Findings revealed that how a group of genetic variations were clustered together ultimately determined people's risk of schizophrenia. For instance, those with speech and behavioral symptoms often had genetic variations that were 100 percent in favor of the health issue. Overall, the team identified 42 genetic variation clusters that increased people's risk of schizophrenia.

More information regarding the findings can be seen via the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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