Dendritic Spine Loss Seen in Patients with Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder, Study


Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may cause dendritic spine loss in the brain, according to a study led by the Harvard Medical School. The findings suggest that these two distinct disorders may share common pathophysiological features.

Researchers said that the dendritic spines play an important role in a variety of brain functions. Previous studies have shown evidence of spine loss in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortices (DLPFCs) of schizophrenic patients.

In the study, the researchers wanted to determine whether spine pathology occurs in patients with bipolar disorder distinct from SZ.

For the study, researchers analysed postmortem human brain tissues in 14 individuals with SZ, nine individuals with BP and 19 unaffected control group individuals.

Researchers found that average spine density was condensed in patients with BP by 10.5 percent and in individuals with SZ by 6.5 percent when compared with control patients.

At the same time, significant reduction in the average number of spines per dendrite was observed in both patients with SZ (72.8 spines per dendrite) and with BP (68.9 spines per dendrite) compared to the control group (92.8 spines per dendrite). They were also associated with reduced average dendrite length compared with the control group.

"The current study suggests that spine pathology is common to both SZ and BP. Moreover, the study of the mechanisms underlying the spine pathology might reveal additional similarities and differences between the two disorders, which could lead to the development of novel biomarkers and therapeutics," author Glenn T. Konopaske and colleagues at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said in a press release.

A latest University of Bonn study found that sleep deprivation even for a day causes symptoms similar to that of schizophrenia in healthy adults. Researchers said that workers in night shifts are also more likely to develop mental health disorders like Psychosis. The chronic form of Psychosis is referred to as schizophrenia. Psychoses are considered to be the most severe kind of mental illnesses.

Vitamin D has also been found to be one of the risk factors for the mental disorder.

"When we examined the findings of several observational studies on vitamin D and schizophrenia, we found people with schizophrenia have lower vitamin D levels than healthy people. Vitamin D deficiency is quite common among people with schizophrenia," said Ahmad Esmaillzadeh from Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran, in a press release.

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