Scientists at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research say that they identified nine genetic markers that can increase a person’s risk for schizophrenia. The research also reportedly showed that this disease can be inherited in a recessive manner.
The scientists developed a mathematical approach called whole genome homozygosity association (WGHA). It enabled them to simultaneously look at genetic information derived from the patient’s mother and father and identify pieces of chromosomes that are identical. They tested genetic material from 178 patients and 144 controls.
The investigators found nine regions along the chromosomes that may play a large role in triggering the disease when two identical variants are inherited. Of these regions, four contain genes that have been previously associated with schizophrenia. Many genes located in the remaining five regions are involved with the structure and survival of neurons, according to the researchers.
In the study, 81% of the schizophrenia patients had at least one of these recessive markers compared to only 45% of the control group. Nearly half of the patients had two or more compared to 11% of the controls. While no one in the healthy group had identical chunks of chromosomes in four or more of these risk regions, subjects with more than three demonstrated a 24-fold increased risk of developing schizophrenia.
The study will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.