Autism, Bipolar and Schizophrenia Share Genetic Similarities

From - February 8, 2018

Autism, Bipolar and Schizophrenia Share Genetic Similarities

THURSDAY, Feb. 8, 2018 -- By examining brain tissue, researchers say they have found similarities in certain mental illnesses, including autism and schizophrenia.

Specifically, some similar patterns of gene expression were found in people with autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, the researchers say.

Gene expression refers to cells' conversion of genetic instructions into proteins.

"These findings provide a molecular, pathological signature of these disorders, which is a large step forward," said senior study author Daniel Geschwind.

"The major challenge now is to understand how these changes arose," added Geschwind, director of the University of California, Los Angeles' Center for Autism Research and Treatment.

"We show that these molecular changes in the brain are connected to underlying genetic causes, but we do not yet understand the mechanisms by which these genetic factors would lead to these changes," Geschwind said in a university news release.

His team analyzed the RNA in 700 tissue samples from the brains of dead people who had autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression or alcohol abuse disorder. They compared the samples with samples from brains of people without mental illness.

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