Genetic mechanisms of psychosis: In vivo and postmortem genomics

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35 Scopus citations


Background: The Clinical Brain Disorders Branch Sibling Study data set was initiated in 1996 to examine genetic associations and to identify biological traits associated with susceptibility gene effects. Characterizing genes - and translating their effects on brain development and function - has potential implications for improving the prevention and treatment of schizophrenia. Objective: The goal of this article was to discuss the relationship between genetic variation and schizophrenia using in vivo and postmortem genomics. Conclusions: Over the past 2 years, several specific genes have been convincingly associated with schizophrenia risk in a number of populations around the world. Some of the genesthat have been studied more extensively include: catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) (chromosome 22q), dysbindin-1 (chromosome 6p), neuregulin 1 (chromosome 8p), metabotropic glutamate receptor 3 (GRM-3) (chromosome 7q), glutamate decarboxylase 1 (chromosome 2q), and disrupted-in-schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) (chromosome 1q). A functional polymorphism in the COMT gene, which affects prefrontal cortical function by changing dopamine signaling in the prefrontal cortex, has been studied extensively. This gene impacts the regulation of dopamine neuronal activity in the brainstem, which is associated with psychosis. GRM-3shows similar results on prefrontal function; in postmortem tissue, it has an effect on expression of various glutamate synaptic markers. DISC1 affects hippocampal anatomy and function, whereas dysbindin-1 appears to be a general cognitive capacity gene that is underexpressed in the schizophrenic cortex. Data suggest that these susceptibility genes influence the cortical information processing which characterizes the schizophrenic phenotype. Thesedata add to the evidence that such genes contribute to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and provide insights into their mechanisms. Thus, genetic variation and its influence on the biological processes underlying schizophrenia may be key to developing future prevention strategies and new treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S8
JournalClinical therapeutics
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebral cortex/physiopathology
  • Genetic predisposition to disease
  • Schizophrenia/genetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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