Schizophrenia and Diabetes Risk May Share Genetic Link
the Psychiatry Advisor take:
A shared gene (or genes) may underlie the co-occurrence of both schizophrenia and type 2 diabetes, according to research published in the FASEB Journal.
It has long been known that schizophrenia is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, and that mutations in Disrupted in Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) have been strongly associated with major psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, but not diabetes.
The new study, conducted by University of Massachusetts researchers Rita Bortell, PhD, and Agata Jurczyk, PhD, is the first to provide a molecular link between type 2 diabetes and psychiatric disorders. It also provides the first evidence indicating that the DISC1 gene plays an unexpected role in pancreatic beta cell function and survival.
To study the DISC1 gene’s function, the researchers genetically manipulated a disruption in the DISC1 gene in mice’s pancreatic cells, but not in the brain. The mice showed increased beta cell death, less insulin secretion, and impaired glucose regulation compared with normal mice.
Studying cultured beta cells, the researchers found that correctly functioning DISC1 inhibits the protein GSK3β. Lowered GSK3β activity is already known to be crucial for beta cell function and survival. When the researchers inhibited GSK3β directly in the mice with disrupted DISC1, they showed improved beta cell survival and restored normal glucose tolerance.
These results uncover an unexpected function of DISC1 and suggest that independently of its function in the brain, it may have a function in regulating blood glucose.
“It is known that individuals with psychiatric disorders may be predisposed to developing type 2 diabetes due to several interacting factors including genetics, lifestyle and medications,” said Dr. Bortell. While it remains to be demonstrated in humans, she added that these mouse studies “predict that DISC1 disruption could tip the balance toward disease.”
The researchers hope that in the future, this discovery may uncover mechanisms to improve therapies for both diseases.
Researchers discovered that independently of its function in the brain, the DISC1 gene may have a function in regulating blood glucose.
It has long been known that psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, have been associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. In a new study published online in The FASEB Journal, a UMass Medical School research team, led by Rita Bortell, PhD, research professor of molecular medicine and Agata Jurczyk, PhD, instructor in molecular medicine, found that a shared gene (or genes) may underlie the co-occurrence of both diseases.
Mutations in Disrupted in Schizophrenia 1 (DISC1) have been strongly associated with major psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, but not diabetes. This study presented the first evidence to indicate that the DISC1 gene also plays a novel, unexpected role in pancreatic beta cell survival and function. It is also the first to provide a molecular link for a prevalence of type 2 diabetes in individuals with psychiatric disorders.
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