Researchers examined the process in which new neurons were designated for certain roles, and found that changes in gene expression over the course of neural development were significantly associated with genetic risk for schizophrenia.

They have established a new analytical method for investigating the complex genetic origins of mental illnesses using brain cells that are grown in a dish from human embryonic stem cells. The study was published in Biological Psychiatry. 

Risk Of Psychiatric Disorders

Our approach allowed us to model multiple regions in the genome that increased the risk for psychiatric disorders act in concert to affect molecular and cellular function that is relevant for neurodevelopment and shows that we can capture parts of the heritability of schizophrenia in a lab model system.

Studying the disease biology and heritability of schizophrenia in model systems is challenging because of the genetic complexity of psychiatric illnesses. They have shown that psychiatric disorders are heritable traits in which hundreds if not thousands of genes throughout the human genome contribute to disease risk.

The translation of polygenic risk to neurobiology is one of the major scientific challenges for psychiatry in this era. The new approach embraced the polygenic nature of schizophrenia by tracking changes in gene expression as human neural stem cells developed.

Schizophrenia Polygenic Risk???????

By integrating the gene expression profiles with genome-wide schizophrenia risk data, first author Anil Ori and colleagues found that the differentially expressed genes during development were associated with schizophrenia polygenic risk. They replicated this finding in the study using a different sample.

According to the authors, the findings will help the researchers narrow down the core disease processes that contribute to the disease risk. In the study, the genes are primarily responsible for the association with the disease risk and were involved in synaptic function-the means by which cells communicate and transmit signals through the brain.

Neuronal Differentiation ??????????????

Establishing this platform for further study has a great potential benefit, "said Mr. Ori Now that the study has established in vitro neural development as a model for the psychiatric disease, can tweak the model to investigate how different environments might affect disease risk, and use this to understand the biology of mental illnesses.

As large-scale genetic studies of psychiatric disorders will continue to expand, our study provides a valuable genomic tool to help investigate and understand how that is distributed across the genome contributes to the etiology of psychiatric disorders.