According to a new research, schizophrenia may occur due to a genetic mutation which results in a structural abnormality in the brain during adolescence.
It is known that abnormal brain development during adolescence is linked to mental illness during adulthood. For the first time, a study has found the possible role of genetic variation disrupting the development of the adolescent brain.
Researchers at the University of Warwick analysed more than 10,000 genetic imaging data of adolescents gathered from 6 countries. The findings showed that a genetic mutation on a zinc-transporter gene SLC39A8 was associated with an elevated risk for schizophrenia during adulthood by interfering with the development of grey matter volume of putamen in the brains of adolescents.
The authors suggest that testing for the SLC39A8 gene and brain imaging for schizophrenia could give a prediction of the likelihood to develop it. The study findings shed new light on the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and could potentially help in developing new methods to prevent it.