March 21, 2007 -- Scientists say they have discovered a tiny chunk of DNA that may affect schizophrenia risk.
The DNA chunk is located near two genes -- the CSF2RA and IL3RA genes -- that haven't been linked to schizophrenia before.
The researchers who spotted the DNA chunk included Todd Lencz, PhD, of the Zucker Hillside Hospital Division of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in Glen Oaks, N.Y., the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y., and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in the Bronx.
Lencz and colleagues analyzed DNA from blood samples provided by 178 people with schizophrenia and 144 people without schizophrenia.
The researchers mapped each person's entire collection of DNA and looked for DNA patterns specific to schizophrenia. The newly identified DNA chunk stood out in those analyses.
Follow-up DNA tests confirmed that certain genetic patterns in that DNA chunk were more common among people with schizophrenia.
However, the study doesn't prove that the DNA chunk causes schizophrenia. It also doesn't rule out the possibility of other genetic traits that accompany schizophrenia.
The findings also don’t show exactly how that particular DNA chunk affects the body. However, the two genes closest to the DNA chunk are linked to cytokines, a type of inflammatory chemical made by the body.
The findings appear in the advance online edition of Molecular Psychiatry.