UNITED STATES – Most diseases today are well studied and have certain “physical” characteristics – the processes and changes that are observed in the tissues, organs and fluids of the body. But this does not apply to mental disorders – the subtlest matters of medicine, which are determined more often not by physiological pathologies, but by behavioral ones.
More precisely, in this case, the latter are much easier to identify than the first.
To determine the clear physiological characteristics of mental and neurological disorders, one must address, first of all, the brain, as well as the genes. And in one such study, researchers from the University of California in Los Angeles (USA) have found a way to compose a molecular “portrait” of diseases.
One of the most intriguing findings is that three seemingly different diseases have similar molecular profiles. It is about autism , schizophrenia and bipolar disorder . Scientists have found that with these ailments, there are similar changes in gene expression (a process in which hereditary information from a gene (a sequence of DNA nucleotides) is converted into a functional product – RNA or protein) in the brain.
The team explains that certain gene variants can endanger human mental health. It is best to look for changes in the case of such disorders at the RNA level, since these molecules play an important role in the expression of genes by “reading” the instructions contained in the DNA.
The scientists realized that careful study of RNA in human brain tissue will allow them to determine the molecular profile of mental disorders.
To compose it, the authors analyzed RNA from 700 images of the brain tissue of already deceased people. All of them suffered from various disorders and diseases – autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, alcoholism.
Samples were compared with the brain tissues of 300 people from the control group who did not have similar disorders. There was also another group of samples for comparison – tissues of 197 patients who did not suffer from mental problems, but had inflammatory bowel diseases.
As a result, specialists actually discovered molecular pathologies, and for some diseases – for example, autism, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia – they coincided. In particular, each of these diseases involves genes that inhibit the work of neurons.
However, the authors note that these three ailments also have some differences. Thus, the activity in genes associated with microglial cells (these are cells of the central nervous system) turned out to be unique for the “autistic brain”.
It was also found out that depressive disorder and alcoholism cause completely unique molecular changes, which are observed for no other violations (and they are not the same as they were supposed before).
“These results provide a molecular signature of such a pathological disorder that is a big step forward – said the lead author, Professor Daniel Geschwind. “The main challenge now – to understand how these changes are having.”
This is what the researchers will do. According to the professor, the chain has already begun to line up: the reason for the changes in the brain’s work is clear and the consequences are clear, it remains to find the missing middle link – the mechanism that triggers fatal changes.
In addition, scientists also intend to examine in more detail new data on autism in order to find out whether it is possible to manipulate micro-glial cells and to reduce the symptoms of the disease in adults with antibiotics.
The scientific article on the results of the study is published in the publication.
By the way, earlier specialists discovered 40 genes of intelligence , and some of them turned out to be associated with autism, schizophrenia and other disorders.