Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Immune system genes associated with increased risk of mental illness, new research suggests

Date:
February 10, 2011
Source:
University of Gothenburg
Summary:
Genes linked to the immune system can affect healthy people’s personality traits as well as the risk of developing mental illness and suicidal behavior, reveals new research from Sweden.

Genes linked to the immune system can affect healthy people's personality traits as well as the risk of developing mental illness and suicidal behaviour, reveals a thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Inflammation is part of the immune system and is responsible for defending humans against infection as well as fascilitating the healing of injuries, and is therefore vital for our survival. Research has demonstrated that inflammatory processes also have other roles to play as inflammatory substances produced by the body influence mechanisms in the brain involving learning and memory.

Inflammatory substances produced in moderate quantities in the brain can be beneficial during the formation of new brain cells, for example. However, an increase in the levels of these substances as is the case during illness, can result in damage to the brain.

"Previous studies have shown that individuals suffering from various mental illnesses have an increased peripheral inflammation, but the reason behind this increase is not known," says Petra Suchankova Karlsson, who wrote the thesis. "It has been suggested that the stress that goes with mental illness activates the body's immune system, but it is also possible that inflammation in the body affects the brain, which in turn results in mental illness."

Previous studies have focused on how environmental and psychological factors affect the immune system's impact on the brain. Suchankova's thesis presents, for the first time, results that suggest that several different genes linked to the immune system are associated with healthy people's personality traits. It also demonstrates that some of these genes are associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia or suicidal behaviour.

"One of the things we studied was a gene variant that increases impulsiveness in people who carry it," says Suchankova. "We already knew that the risk of attempting suicide is higher in impulsive people and therefore analysed this gene variant in a group of patients who had attempted to take their life. We found that these patients more often carried the particular gene variant when compared to the general population which meant that this variant was not only associated with increased impulsiveness in healthy individuals but also with increased risk of suicidal behaviour."

The change in the levels of inflammatory substances in the blood of patients suffering from a mental illness as previously noted may have been caused by inflammation-related genes affecting the risk of mental illness, rather than the illness itself leading to a change in levels, as is traditionally believed.

"It could well be that some variants of the genes play a role in the development of mental illness by controlling how the brain is formed, perhaps during the embryonic stage, or by affecting the transfer of signal substances," says Suchankova.

The results of this thesis support the proposed role of the immune system in mental illness, and could be used as a basis for further studies that, it is hoped, will lead to the development of new treatment methods.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Gothenburg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Petra Suchankova, Fariba Baghaei, Roland Rosmond, Gφran Holm, Henrik Anckarsδter, Agneta Ekman. Genetic variability within the S100B gene influences the personality trait self-directedness. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.10.017

Cite This Page:

University of Gothenburg. "Immune system genes associated with increased risk of mental illness, new research suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110207112537.htm>.
University of Gothenburg. (2011, February 10). Immune system genes associated with increased risk of mental illness, new research suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110207112537.htm
University of Gothenburg. "Immune system genes associated with increased risk of mental illness, new research suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110207112537.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins