High level of NRG3 can increase risk of schizophrenia, finds study

High level of NRG3 can increase risk of schizophrenia, finds study

Severe psychological disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder (MDD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), are pervasive across the United States. Patients with these disorders suffer both psychologically and physically. However, treatment for these severities is a big challenge due to the limited understanding of the underlying pathological mechanisms.

The consistent increase in the rate of mental disorders has propelled many scientists and medical practitioners to understand the inner dynamics of such complicated conditions. The main objective is to enhance the entire treatment procedure by finding the target areas in the brain. A recent study, conducted by researchers from various research institutions and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in May 2018, highlighted that mental illnesses affect the level of neurotransmitters, responsible for regulating mood, appetite, sleep, etc. It discovered that protein named neuregulin 3a (NRG3) increases the risk of schizophrenia by affecting the release of neurotransmitters in the brain.

The study shed light on the cellular mechanisms of a severe condition like schizophrenia, which will play a crucial role in adding value to the ongoing treatment approaches for mental disorders.

Inner dynamics of mental disorders

NRG3 is a growth factor of the neuregulin (NRG) family and a risk gene of various severe mental health complaints.  The research team comprised 15 neuroscientists from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Augusta University of Georgia, Nanchang University and Guangzhou Medical University of China. They were able to highlight that specific variations in the gene encoding NRG3 were responsible for inciting mental disorders.

In the study, investigators mutated the gene encoding NRG3 in certain numbers of neurons. The mutation of NRG3 in neurons leads to the activation of pyramidal neurons, thereby surging behavior consistent with schizophrenia. Furthermore, mice showed trouble remembering and navigating mazes.

The experiment demonstrated that increasing NRG3 expression impairs the release of glutamate release, the most prevalent excitatory neurotransmitter essential for learning and activating neurons. Any kind of imbalance in glutamate is responsible for inciting schizophrenic symptoms. By using a combination of biochemical, molecular biological and several other techniques, scientists identified NRG3 as a regulator of the SNARE complex, needed by neurons to transmit certain neurotransmitters between each other, specifically glutamate. The study highlighted that people suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, OCD, etc. have higher levels of NRG3, which suppressed glutamate release and prevented the formation of SNARE complex. This will assist medical practitioners in effectively treating schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders by targeting NRG3.

Road to recovery

Schizophrenia, characterized by hallucinations, delusions, etc., is more prominent during late adolescence or early adulthood. Like other severe psychiatric disorders, it severely affects people by becoming a lifelong struggle. While it occurs in men between 16 and 20 years, women show the symptoms around 25 to 30 years of age. It is important to be respectful and supportive towards what the patients might be thinking or feeling as their hallucinations seem real to them. Talking to them in a derogatory manner will further isolate them from the community, reducing their chances of living a better life. The families and friends can help the patients to connect with good schizophrenia rehabilitation centers.

If you or your loved one is struggling with schizophrenia or any other mental disorder, contact the Florida Mental Health Helpline. We provide residential treatment for schizophrenia in a safe and supportive environment. Our facilities are equipped with advanced treatment facilities and manned by trained professionals. For more information, call at our 24/7 mental health helpline 866-846-5588 or chat online with our representatives.

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