Is schizophrenia one disease... or eight?

Rather than being a single condition, new research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that schizophrenia may be a group of eight genetically different diseases - each with their own symptoms.
woman with eight faces
The scientists classified various profiles of schizophrenia symptoms into eight qualitative types of different diseases.

Schizophrenia affects about 1% of the world’s population. Previous research has suggested that 80% of the risk for having schizophrenia is hereditary. Historically though, scientists have struggled to pinpoint which genes increase risk for schizophrenia.

Despite this, in 2014, researchers from Cardiff University School of Medicine in the UK reported that they had linked 108 genes - 83 of them newly discovered - to schizophrenia.

However, co-author of that study, Prof. Michael O’Donovan, warned that:

“Genetics only provides pointers to aspects of biology, but other research is needed to follow up those pointers and translate that into a detailed understanding of disease mechanisms. So by providing lots of genetic clues, we have provided an unprecedented number of openings to study the biology of the disorder.”

In the new study, researchers from the universities of Granada in Spain and Washington in St Louis, MO, recruited 4,196 schizophrenia patients and 3,200 healthy controls to identify the different gene networks implicated in schizophrenia.

The patients were divided into groups according to the extent of “positive symptoms” - such as hallucinations or deliriums - and “negative symptoms,” such as lack of initiative, problems with organizing thoughts and lack of connection between emotion and thought.

The scientists then classified the profiles of these symptoms into eight qualitative types of different diseases.
Researchers matched eight groups of symptoms to gene networks

Associations between individual genes and schizophrenia symptoms were found to be weak and inconsistent. However, where this study breaks from other studies into the genetic component of schizophrenia is by choosing to investigate the interaction of genes, rather than just associations between schizophrenia and individual genes.

“What we did with this research,” the authors write, “after a decade of frustration in the field of psychiatric genetics, is identify the manner in which the genes interact with each other, in an orchestrated manner in the case of healthy patients, or disorganized, as happens in the cases that lead to the different types of schizophrenia.”


Didn’t you post this like a month or two ago?

Similar but different research,

thanks for the info