An autoantibody against NCAM1 could be a cause of schizophrenia

Confirmation of this hypothesis will lead to important improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of this mental illness.

Louis Ochoa

Jun 09 2022 | | reading time: 3 minutes

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that affects the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. Photo: shutterstock.

Researchers at Tokyo Medical and Dental University (Japan) Identified autoantibodies that can cause schizophrenia in some people. In this new study, published in Cell Reports Medicine, Japanese researchers show that this autoantibody causes behaviors similar to schizophrenia and Brain changes when injected into mice.

When considering autoantibodies that could cause schizophrenia, the research team had a specific protein in mind. Previous research has suggested that Neuron adhesion molecule (NCAM1).which help brain cells communicate with each other through specialized connections known as synapses, may play a role in the development of schizophrenia.

“We decided to search for autoantibodies against NCAM1 in about 200 healthy controls and 200 schizophrenic patients. We only found these autoantibodies in 12 patients, suggesting that they may be associated with A disorder in a small subgroup about cases of schizophrenia,” explains lead author of the study Hiroki Shiwako.

The research team didn’t stop there: They wanted to find out if these autoantibodies could cause the changes that normally occur in schizophrenia, so they understood Purified antibodies from some patients And they injected it into the brains of mice.

The results were great.. Although the mice had these autoantibodies brains for a short time “Over time, there have been changes in behavior and synapses similar to what we see in humans with schizophrenia,” said Hidehiko Takahashi, lead author of the paper.

Specifically, mice with the patient’s antibody They had cognitive impairment and changes in their regulation of sudden reactionsboth observed in Other animal models of schizophrenia. They also have fewer synapses and dendritic spines, which are important structures for communication between brain cells, which are also affected in schizophrenia.

Since schizophrenia can present quite differently between patients and is often treatment-resistant, the results of this study are promising. If schizophrenia is indeed caused by antibodies against NCAM1 in some patients, This will lead to relevant improvements in its diagnosis and treatment.

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