New data, generated by Daniel Weinberger and colleagues, at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, have indicated that in healthy individuals, variation in a gene known as AKT1 affects the structure and function of part of the brain that is dysfunctional in individuals with schizophrenia.
Specifically, in healthy individuals, one particular AKT1 variant was associated with impaired cognition (an impaired ability to process information), something that is markedly affected in individuals with schizophrenia.
In addition, the same AKT1 variant was associated with decreased grey-matter volume in the frontostriatal region of the brain, which is dysfunctional in individuals with schizophrenia.
Further analysis indicated that the AKT1 variant was associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia and the therapeutic implications of this, as well as the other results of the study, are discussed in an accompanying commentary by Alexander Arguello and Joseph Gogos, at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York.
- Genetic variation in AKT1 is linked to dopamine-associated prefrontal cortical structure and function in humans. Journal of Clinical Investigation. May 22, 2008. doi:10.1172/JCI34725
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