Some cases of schizophrenia can be caused by autoantibodies that block the proper functioning of a molecule involved in communication between neurons: this is what emerges from research published in Cell and conducted by a team of researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU). “The results are amazing,” says Hidehiko Takahashi, one of the authors, commenting on in vitro studies on mice, whose behavior assumed typical features of schizophrenia soon after the antibody was injected.
Only in some cases. These autoantibodies will counteract the action of NCAM1 (neuronal adhesion molecule), a glycoprotein that plays an essential role in communication between neurons and whose (lack of) function has been linked in the past to the onset of schizophrenia.
To understand more, the researchers used two groups of people, 200 healthy people and 200 patients with schizophrenia: Only 12 of the patients were found to have autoantibodies to NCAM1. “This finding indicates that autoantibodies can only cause disease in some cases, not always,” stresses study coordinator Hiroki Shiwako.
The researchers then injected anti-NCAM1 autoantibodies into the brains of healthy mice, to confirm that they were indeed linked to the disease: Soon after the procedure, the rodents began showing symptoms consistent with schizophrenia and poor communication between neurons.
Various reasons. If it is true that the number of patients in whom the presence of these autoantibodies is found is not high (only 6% of the total), then schizophrenia, as the researchers emphasize, is a complex disease that often has different causes: for this reason to determine All Of these reasons is important, to allow the development of targeted therapies for each patient.