Tokyo: Scientists have identified a rare genetic variant that may have a fundamental role in the development of schizophrenia -- a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects over 21 millon people worldwide.
It is known that more than 80 per cent of schizophrenia cases have a hereditary cause, but the new study identified RTN4R gene variant that leads to the complicated disorder, which often appears in early adulthood.
"Schizophrenia is a disease caused by disturbances in neural circuits. Myelin-related genes are associated with the disease," said Toshihide Yamashita, professor at Osaka University in Japan.
Myelin, which acts as a conductor of signals for the neural circuits, could contribute to the pathology of schizophrenia.
RTN4R is a subunit of RTN4, which regulates crucial functions for neural circuits, namely, axon regeneration and structural plasticity.Moreover, "RTN4 is a promising candidate gene for schizophrenia because it is located at chromosome 22q11.2 -- a hotspot for schizophrenia", Yamashita said.