01:59pm Wednesday 03 June 2020

Schizophrenic brain on red alert

The finding is the strongest evidence so far of a link between immune function and schizophrenia, with 40 per cent of people with the illness in the study shown to have increased inflammation in a part of their brain.

“To find this immune pattern in nearly half of people with schizophrenia raises the possibility that this is in fact a new root cause of the disease,” says Professor Cyndi Shannon Weickert from the UNSW School of Psychiatry who is based at Neuroscience Research Australia and senior author of the study published in Molecular Psychiatry.

Her team used new genetic tools to measure immune activity in the brains of people with schizophrenia and with people without the disease.

“The part of the brain we looked at is indeed ‘in crisis’ in people with schizophrenia. From the types of immune markers we measured it’s like the brain is on red alert,” Professor Shannon Weickert says.

See the full media release here.

Other research by Professor Shannon Weickert also recently found that the brains of people with schizophrenia may try to repair damage from the disease.

Her team studied the section of the brain involved in regulating emotional and social behaviour – the orbitofrontal cortex and found evidence to suggest neurons found a high density of neurons in a deeper area of the brain in people with schizophrenia.

“What we now have is evidence that suggests these neurons are derived from the part of the brain that produces new neurons, and that they may be in the process of moving,” Professor Shannon Weickert says.

See the full media release here.

Media Contact: Ben Bravery, NeuRA Media Office, 0406 599 569

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