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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Schizophrenia could largely be the result of defective cells

"It was through studies of mice with human glial cells that we succeeded in testing how dysfunctional glial cells may cause abnormalities in the formation of the brain's neural networks, which may in turn cause severe anxiety, anti-social behaviour and severe sleep problems," says lead researcher Steven Goldman
Glial cells come in a variety of forms and can be found throughout the nervous system, taking on a bunch of supportive tasks to allow the nerve cells do what they do... best – pass on messages. This could be in the form of support, wrapping themselves around the nerves, or by surrounding the nerves to clean up stray chemical messages.
While dysfunctional helper cells have been associated with schizophrenia before, it's been assumed to be less important than abnormalities in the neurons themselves.
In this research the scientists took glial progenitor cells from patients diagnosed with schizophrenia and transplanted them into the brains of young mice. They then compared them with the same kinds of cells taken from subjects without schizophrenia.
That way they could be confident that similar behaviours in the mice were the product of the same pathology in humans.
Sure enough, the stem cells derived from the subjects with schizophrenia showed an unusual pattern of migration as they spread through the mice brains, leading to lower numbers of a type of glial cell that was responsible for mopping up neurotransmitter chemicals in the gaps between neurons.
The research hints at a faulty mechanism telling the glial cells where to stop and change into cells that perform their jobs.
When the mice were observed for behavioural differences, they showed clear signs of anxiety, sleep disruption, and anhedonia.

The Minding Brain