Biology

Is the placenta the missing link connecting genes, environment and schizophrenia?

Is the placenta the missing li...
Stresses in the placenta could be key in triggering the onset of a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders including schizophrenia
Stresses in the placenta could be key in triggering the onset of a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders including schizophrenia
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Stresses in the placenta could be key in triggering the onset of a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders including schizophrenia
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Stresses in the placenta could be key in triggering the onset of a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders including schizophrenia

A compelling new study suggests that activity in the placenta could be the missing link connecting environmental factors with genetics in relation to the development of many behavioral disorders, including schizophrenia.

A large volume of recent research has been uncovering new insights into how disorders such as schizophrenia can arise. A variety of genetic variants have recently been revealed that predispose a person to developing schizophrenia and most prenatal research has focused directly on how fetal brain development can be negatively disrupted. This new research turns the spotlight squarely onto the placenta.

"For the first time, we have found an explanation for the connection between early life complications, genetic risk, and their impact on mental illness and it all converges on the placenta," says Daniel R. Weinberger, one of the lead researchers on the study.

While the presence of certain genetic variants seem to be key to the development of schizophrenia, a great deal of recent research has begun to hypothesize that the condition begins when a child's brain is developing during pregnancy. Previous studies have intriguingly found correlations between obstetric complications and an increased risk of schizophrenia, but any mechanism that could explain this link has remained a mystery.

This new research, led by the Lieber Institute for Brain Development, found that complications in pregnancy seem to "turn on" genes known to be associated with schizophrenia and this activity is seen specifically in the placenta. The more signs a placenta displayed of being under stress (inflammation, for example), the greater the expression was seen in these genes known to increase the risk of schizophrenia.

The research also found that a person's genetic risk of schizophrenia seemed to be strongly modulated by complications experienced during pregnancy. It was found that those with a high genetic risk of schizophrenia were five times more likely to develop the condition if they experienced obstetric complications, compared to those with no history of pregnancy stresses but an equally high genetic risk.

Another finding in the research revealed schizophrenia genes expressing more prominently in placentas from males rather than females. This may help explain the mystery of why schizophrenia (and a variety of other behavioral disorders) appear at rates two to four times more frequently in males than females. The study hypothesizes that the sex bias seen in these disorders could stem from the placenta's role in neurodevelopment.

This fascinating research excitingly bridges the classic nature/nurture debate, finding a clearly identifiable environmental experience that seems to strongly activate the expression of genes leading to schizophrenia. The role of the placenta in this developmental process is also important as it suggests a larger focus on placental health during a pregnancy could lessen a person's risk of developing a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders.

"The surprising results of this study make the placenta the centerpiece of a new realm of biological investigation related to how genes and the environment interact to alter the trajectory of human brain development," says Weinberger.

The study was published in the journal Nature Medicine.

Source: Lieber Institute for Brain Development

1 comment
Eric Blenheim
An interesting article. Certainly, the percentage of so-called schizophrenics whose cerebrospinal fluid contains the cytomegalovirus in some studies is well over 50%, and other viral agents have also been implicated.
This is due to the fact that these viruses damage the brain, and prevent a person then being able to respond in the way most others do to certain stimuli in life, with them appearing unable to 'adjust' or cope in some ways.
There would appear to be multiple causes of brain dysfunction resulting in so-called schizophrenia or 'schizophreniform' behaviour, this may be caused by damaged or mutated genetics producing a faulty brain, caused by head injuries, brain-damage caused by viruses, the iatrogenic effects of certain medicines or effects of drug abuse that temporarily produce schizophreniform conditions or even long-term actual schizophrenic-type conditions by either rewiring the brain, or by physically damaging it, or by altering it's chemistry, sometimes permanently, or even exceptional social stresses or even environmental stresses (shell-shock for instance) making even a 'normal' person with a 'normal' brain appear to act in a schizophrenic or schizophreniform manner, or even by political or cultlike religious brainwashing that culminates in Jim Jones-type scenarios, and even hypnosis has been provenly used by the CIA to produce such symptoms, as revealed in certain research papers that have been fairly recently revealed concerning the MKUltra research Program etc., and militarised 'voice of God' microwave technology can produce exactly the same symptoms in any subject, so the causational factors are very varied indeed, and after all that, who is to judge what is normal or acceptable behaviour anyway, when some of the political leaders in some nations who are all judged the 'sanest' of all, sometimes engage in some instances in authorizing genocidal warfare, sometimes doing that in a covert manner without the full knowledge of their people, or use murderous false flag attacks on their own peoples, to goad their peoples into the psychosis of desiring murderous war against actually innocent peoples in other nations.
Even what constitutes 'schizophrenia' can be tailored to suit political whim so as to enable supposed political subversives to be disposed of in the state psychiatric facilities and kept doped out of their minds with brain-damaging drugs, as was the case with the invented illness 'Sluggish Schizophrenia' in one nation.
In fact, it was supposed until recently that if a person was suffering from schizophrenia, that unless they received 'medication' for that condition, that they would inevitably suffer brain-damage, until more rational research found just the opposite, that certain antipsychotic medication itself was actually the real culprit that is causing brain-damage, conveniently one might suppose for some, to produce the very type of behaviour that could be associated with 'schizophrenia' to enable certain people to be kept locked away under politically-repressive regimes under deliberately false diagnoses.
In some instances, long-term mental patients suffering with 'schizophrenia' who were drinking as much coffee as they wished all day long in the hospital wards were found to have their symptoms either completely or almost completely removed simply by stopping drinking coffee, so that most of them could be released from hospital shortly afterwards, as the excessive amounts of coffee had been removing minerals vital for the correct functioning of the brain, and also causing the stress levels and associated mental chemistry to go right off the charts.
Some more progressive psychiatric research is even looking into the possibilities of fourth-dimensional influences that may be implicated as causational factors in certain types of mental illness, and in Russia, for instance, telepathy and associated psychic phenomena are not regarded merely as fanciful self-delusion, but an actual reality. Russian medicine not only recognizes telepathy and psychic phenomena, but has also officially recognized 'prana', otherwise known as 'chi' as a fifth type of matter, and the type, flow and availability of this energy is recognized as having a profound influence on the health or ill-health of individuals, physically, mentally, and psychically.