Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Brain inflammation linked to schizophrenia

That is the title of this article I am writing about today. "A direct link has been found between brain inflammation and schizophrenia that could mark a turning point in the prevention and treatment of serious mental illness.  Scientists have shown that immune cells in the brain called microglia appear to play a key role in psychotic disorders.  Brain scans of people with schizophrenia revealed that microglia activity increased in parallel with the severity of their symptoms.  The cells, which respond to damage and infection in the brain, were hyperactive compared with those of non-psychotic individuals.  Neuroscientist Peter Bloomfield, from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Clinical Sciences Centre based at Imperial College, London, said: 'Our findings are particularly exciting because it was previously unknown whether these cells become active before or after onset of the disease.  'Now we have shown this early involvement, mechanisms of the disease and new medications can hopefully be uncovered.'  Microglia have the important job of engulfing and disposing of dead and damaged cells, infectious agents, and potentially dangerous protein fragments in the brain.  In addition, microglia act as 'gardeners', stripping away unwanted neural connections through a process known as "pruning" that alters brain wiring"  It is very interesting I would like to learn more about what they do when they are hyperactive. If it can lead to new medication that would be great.
The article continues: "One theory about the origins of schizophrenia is that it is linked to pruning, which may explain why the disease normally strikes in late adolescence when major brain re-modelling is taking place.  For the new study, 56 people underwent positron emission tomography (PET) scans which produce 3D images of brain activity by tracking a radioactive tracer.  Some of the participants were diagnosed with schizophrenia while others were either at risk of the disease or symptom-free.  The results, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, indicate that looking for signs of inflammation in the brain could provide an early warning of schizophrenia.  They also raise the possibility of new treatments that involve calming down microglia activity.  Dr Oliver Howes, head of the psychiatric imaging group at the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, said: "Schizophrenia is a potentially devastating disorder and we desperately need new treatments to help sufferers, and ultimately to prevent it."It is alright for people who get schizophrenia when they are young.  For me I did not get it to age twenty seven. Even though I feel I had symptoms at nineteen it did not fully develop until I was twenty seven.
The article ends: "'This is a promising study as it suggests that inflammation may lead to schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. We now aim to test whether anti-inflammatory treatments can target these. This could lead to new treatments or even prevention of the disorders altogether.'  Professor Hugh Perry, chair of the MRC's Neuroscience and Mental Health Board, added: 'This study adds to a growing body of research that inflammation in the brain could be one of the factors contributing to a range of disorders, including Alzheimer's, schizophrenia and depression. With this new knowledge comes the hope of life-changing treatments.'  Around one in 100 people in the UK will experience symptoms of schizophrenia in their lifetime.  The condition, most often diagnosed in the late teens and early 20s, is marked by hallucinations, delusions and disordered thoughts.  Suicide is closely linked to schizophrenia, with between 5% and 10% of sufferers ending their lives." I learned that suicide is a form of mental illness. I believe it would go along with depression.  I guess I will never know how and why I developed paranoid schizophrenia it does not run in my family.  I would like to know if alcohol and drugs caused it.

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