Navigation path

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia
  Germany
  Ghana
  Greece

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia
  Germany
  Ghana
  Greece


This page was published on 14/10/2011
Published: 14/10/2011

   Infocentre

Published: 14 October 2011  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Health & life sciencesGenomics  |  Medical research  |  Neuroscience
Human resources & mobilityMarie Curie Actions
Add to PDF "basket"

Epigenetic impact on neuropsychiatric disorders

Neuropsychiatric diseases including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are influenced by epigenetic processes, new research from the United Kingdom shows. Presented in the journal Human Molecular Genetics, this study probed genome-wide epigenetic differences in cases of twins with psychosis. The results could lead to novel treatment approaches. The research was funded in part by the EUTWINSS ('European twin study network on schizophrenia') study, which clinched a Marie Curie Research Training Networks grant worth EUR 2.4 million under the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).

Epigenetic processes influence neuropsychiatric disorders © Shutterstock
Epigenetic processes influence neuropsychiatric disorders
©  Shutterstock

Past studies linked epigenetic changes in the brain to various biological and cognitive processes including neurogenesis, drug addiction and neurodegeneration. Researchers also identified how epigenetic changes in the brain may play a role in the spectrum of psychiatric disorders such as psychosis.

In the first comprehensive analysis of disease-associated deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) methylation differences in twins discordant for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London in the United Kingdom discovered no changes in global DNA methylation between affected and unaffected twins. However, they did find a link between twin differences at specific loci across the genome.

'Our hypothesis-free experimental design allowed us to identify disease-associated DNA methylation differences at loci not previously implicated in psychiatric disorders, but we also found evidence for DNA methylation differences at genes previously implicated in psychosis,' the authors of the paper write. 'Pathway analysis of our top loci highlighted a significant enrichment of epigenetic disruption to biological networks and pathways relevant to psychiatric disease and neurodevelopment. Overall, our data provide further evidence to support a role for DNA methylation differences in the aetiology of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.'

Their findings suggest that while 70% of the cases of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are heritable, disease concordance between pairs of twins is far from 100%. This shows that non-genetic factors are involved in the onset of diseases.

'We studied a group of 22 identical twin-pairs, so 44 individuals in all, one of the largest twin studies performed for any complex disease to date,' says the Institute's Dr Jonathan Mill, lead author of the study. 'In each twin-pair, one had either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Because we know that twins are genetically identical, we can rule out any genetic cause of illness in the affected twin — the aim of our study was to investigate epigenetic variations associated with these disorders.'

According to the researchers, there is a connection between epigenetic mechanisms and heritable, but reversible, changes in gene expression. It should be noted, however, that no changes occur in the underlying DNA sequence. This is triggered through changes in DNA methylation and chromatin structure.

'Our findings suggest that it is not only genetic variations that are important,' Dr Mill says. 'The epigenetic differences we see may tell us more about the causes or schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, as some alterations were specific to either disease. Importantly, epigenetic processes are potentially reversible, meaning that our research could open up new avenues for the development of novel therapeutic drugs.'


Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles

Notes:
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use this search box rather than the one at the top of the page.

After searching, you can expand the results to include the whole Research and Innovation web site, or another section of it, or all Europa, afterwards without searching again.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also

Human Molecular Genetics
Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London
'EU project to determine causes of schizophrenia'





  Top   Research Information Center
 
Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia
  Germany
  Ghana
  Greece

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia
  Germany
  Ghana
  Greece