Mother's virus and gene variant linked to schizophrenia

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Could there be a virus link to mental illness?
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Women who have the cytomegalovirus and whose child has a particular gene variant could be significantly increased risk for schizophrenia. Findings from researchers suggest the virus, which often goes undiagnosed, combined with a particular offspring gene variant, significantly boosts the chances of the mental illness in a first finding.

Seventy percent of women have schizophrenia triggering virus

The herpes related cytomegalovirus that 70 percent of women have could lead to schizophrenia only if a woman’s child has the particular gene variant; 15 percent of children possess the gene anomaly.

One percent of the population has schizophrenia.

Researchers say the finding is important, because it identifies a potential cause of mental illness.

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The finding comes from an international team of scientists, led by Aarhus University, Denmark. The researchers specifically looked for a link between cytomegalovirus and schizophrenia among healthy and sick people, scanning their entire genomes to find the link.

Cytomegalovirus infection is very mild, which is why most people do not know they have it.

The study authors say there is no need for alarm because there are probably other factors that interplay to prevent a child from developing schizophrenia.

"In the longer term, the development of an effective vaccine against cytomegalovirus may help to prevent many cases of schizophrenia," says Professor of Medical Genetics at Aarhus University, Anders Børglum in a press release.

Source:
Aarhus University
March 1, 2013

Image credit:
Morguefile

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