Cellular Process Gone Awry Tied to Schizophrenia

Researchers have discovered a molecular process that may contribute to the development of schizophrenia.

…. a process called autophagy is reduced in the brain of a person with schizophrenia.  Authophagy — a “cell-maintenance” mechanism — clears out the dysfunctional and needless parts of a cell. When this process is blocked, cells die.

The findings show that patients with schizophrenia have reduced levels of a protein called beclin-1 in the hippocampus (a brain region linked to learning and memory).  Beclin-1 plays an important role in autophagy, the researchers note. This finding suggests that autophagy may be blocked in the brains of schizophrenic patients.

The researchers believe that creating drugs that increase beclin-1 levels and trigger autophagy may lead to a new treatment for schizophrenia.

by Traci Pederson, PsychCentral

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