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Is Schizophrenia 8 Distinct Disorders?

Is Schizophrenia 8 Distinct Disorders?

We have all likely pondered over the many various types of schizophrenia and the wide range of symptoms that can manifest and realized how different some of them are.  It seems like we might be dealing with several distinct disorders from a surface viewpoint.  There has been little support for this concept “under the hood” when considering neurological and genetic factors, until now.

“Multiple Genetically Distinct Disorders”

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine reported some intriguing results in the American Journal of Psychiatry on the 15th of September, 2014.

“Genes don’t operate by themselves.  They function in concert much like an orchestra.”

Dr. Cloninger, MD, PhD continues, “To understand how they’re working, you have to know not just who the members of the orchestra are but how they interact.”  Cloninger, professor of psychiatry and genetics, led the research team that analyzed single nucleotide polymorphism within a 4,200 member experimental group consisting of people diagnosed with schizophrenia.  The results were compared against a control group of 3,800 non-diagnosed members.

Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) refers to an instance where a solitary unit of DNA has been altered.  The team looked at almost 700,000 locations within the human genome to create a map of these DNA variations.  We understand that at least 75% of the risk of developing schizophrenia is genetic but have never been able to pinpoint precisely where these genetic factors lie within the body until now.

Results Summary

In summary, some of the results of the study have shown that specific symptoms, such as hallucinations, can be associated with a certain configuration of SNPs with a 95% statistical certainty.  Others have been shown to be correlated with disorganized speech with even a 100% certainty.

The team concluded through grouping the constellation of possible “orchestra interactions” into 42 clusters and then cross-referencing these with symptomatic expression and severity that there are possibly eight distinct disorders related to schizophrenia.  This perhaps is something many  of us have suspected but now there is scientific support for the idea.

To read more about this study:

[slidetabs id="1744"]

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