Schizophrenia associated with vitamin D deficiencies

Lack of vitamin D in the blood at birth is associated with increased risk of developing schizophrenia in adult life – to such conclusion came scientists from Denmark (Aarhus University) and Australia (University of Queensland) after conducting joint studies. It was published in Scientific Reports.

“Children who were born with a lack of vitamin D (less than 20,4 nanomole per liter), the risk of developing schizophrenia in the future was higher by 44 percent,” the scientists said in the journal.
The researchers analyzed data 2602 people –residents of Denmark, born between 1981 and 2000. Half of them were ill with schizophrenia, the healthy half made up the control group. Researchers took into account factors such as gender, age, date of birth, the presence of mental illness in the family, age of diagnosis of schizophrenia, age of the mother and father at birth, its weight, the living environment. It was also considered data of the genetic analysis of the participants.

But even taking into account the above circumstances, confirmed the link between lack of vitamin D and development of schizophrenia: children with its deficiency in the blood at birth, more often fell ill with schizophrenia in adulthood. The researchers stated that the level of neonatal vitamin D is an important possible biomarker of schizophrenia risk.

Scientists say that a lack of vitamin D is correlated with the lack of sunlight. Spring and winter, according to scientists, is born the most children with a high risk of subsequent development of schizophrenia.

Earlier Magicforum wrote about the fact that scientists discovered the human immune system the ability to protect cancer cells, allowing them not to be afraid of chemotherapy.

Link between neonatal vitamin D deficiency and schizophrenia confirmed

Newborns with vitamin D deficiency have an increased risk of schizophrenia later in life, a team of Australian and Danish researchers has reported.

The discovery could help prevent some cases of the disease by treating vitamin D deficiency during the earliest stages of life.

The study, led by Professor John McGrath from The University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia and Aarhus University in Denmark, found newborns with vitamin D deficiency had a 44 per cent increased risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia as adults compared to those with normal vitamin D levels.

“Schizophrenia is a group of poorly understood brain disorders characterised by symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions and cognitive impairment,” he said.

“As the developing foetus is totally reliant on the mother’s vitamin D stores, our findings suggest that ensuring pregnant women have adequate levels of vitamin D may result in the prevention of some schizophrenia cases, in a manner comparable to the role folate supplementation has played in the prevention of spina bifida.”

Professor McGrath, of UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute, said the study, which was based on 2602 individuals, confirmed a previous study he led that also found an association between neonatal vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of schizophrenia.

The team made the discovery by analysing vitamin D concentration in blood samples taken from Danish newborns between 1981 and 2000 who went on to develop schizophrenia as young adults.

The researchers compared the samples to those of people matched by sex and date of birth who had not developed schizophrenia.

Professor McGrath said schizophrenia is associated with many different risk factors, both genetic and environmental, but the research suggested that neonatal vitamin D deficiency could possibly account for about eight per cent of schizophrenia cases in Denmark.

“Much of the attention in schizophrenia research has been focused on modifiable factors early in life with the goal of reducing the burden of this disease,” he said.

“Previous research identified an increased risk of schizophrenia associated with being born in winter or spring and living in a high-latitude country, such as Denmark.

“We hypothesised that low vitamin D levels in pregnant women due to a lack of sun exposure during winter months might underlie this risk, and investigated the association between vitamin D deficiency and risk of schizophrenia.”

Professor McGrath said that although Australia had more bright sunshine compared to Denmark, vitamin D deficiency could still be found in pregnant women in Australia because of our lifestyle and sun-safe behaviour.

Professor McGrath, who holds a prestigious Niels Bohr Professorship at Aarhus University, also led a 2016 Dutch study that found a link between prenatal vitamin D deficiency and increased risk of childhood autism traits.

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Decrease in specific gene ‘silencing’ molecules linked with pediatric brain tumors

Experimenting with lab-grown brain cancer cells, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers have added to evidence that a shortage of specific tiny molecules that silence certain genes is linked to the development and growth of pediatric brain tumors known as low-grade gliomas.

A report of the findings was published this fall 2018 in Scientific Reports, and supports the idea of increasing levels of microRNAs as a potential means of treating these tumors.

An estimated 1,600 cases of pediatric low-grade gliomas (PLGGs) are diagnosed annually in the United States, and the vast majority of these slow-growing tumors are treatable and curable mainly by surgical removal, although in some cases surgery has the potential to damage critical nearby brain tissue, depending on tumor location. Unlike high-grade glioblastomas such as the one that took the life of Arizona Senator John McCain, PLGGs mostly affect school-age children and young adults.

“It has long been known that microRNAs play a role in controlling various tumor properties such as growth,” says Fausto Rodriguez, M.D., associate professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the study’s senior author.

“Our findings identified a subset of microRNAs that, in sufficient quantity, seem to decrease the growth and invasion of cancerous cells in pediatric low-grade gliomas.”

MicroRNAs are tiny molecules that, in ways similar to how an orchestra conductor controls the flow of each instrument group, command the expression of entire gene networks that make proteins by essentially silencing them, and are responsible for regulating biological processes such as nutrient intake, cell growth and cell death. Altered levels of specific microRNAs can disrupt entire biological pathways just as a misguided section of an orchestra can unsettle an entire score.

“One microRNA can target multiple genes and have a profound effect on cell processes, and the alterations are dynamic,” notes Rodriguez, who says PLGGs are good candidates for analyzing microRNA types and levels because genetically PLGGs are stable compared with other tumors. That makes it relatively easier, he says, to identify any relevant genetic abnormalities and potential targets for therapy.

For the new study, the researchers first analyzed previously gathered microRNA subtype data in two studies. They examined tumors from 125 patients with low-grade gliomas for levels of a specific microRNA, known as miR-125b, using chromogenic in situ hybridization (CISH), a technique that is applicable to routinely processed tissue in pathology and allows for identification of specific microRNAs in the cells of interest. Levels of this microRNA were lower in 43 pilocytic astrocytomas (the most common subtype of PLGG) when compared with 24 diffuse astrocytomas and normal brain tissues.

Rodriguez and the research team next looked at eight cancerous cell lines derived from brain (glial) tumors in children for levels of microRNA 125b-p using a method that can rapidly make thousands to millions of copies of a genetic sequence for easier analysis of how much of a gene is expressed. Although levels of microRNA 125b-p varied across the lab-grown cell lines, they were significantly and uniformly lower in cancerous cell lines than noncancerous cell lines, Rodriguez reports.

In further experiments designed to identify the role of these microRNAs in cell growth, the investigators increased levels of miR-125b in cancerous cell lines by introducing a DNA segment in the tumor cells using specific viruses, and saw a decrease in cell division and growth. To check whether cell death contributed to this decrease in cell growth, Rodriguez stained cells containing high levels of microRNA 125b and noted cell death in all cell lines, suggesting that increasing levels of microRNA 125b can stop the growth of PLGG.

“These findings are an example of where advances in precision medicine might take us, and show how, someday, increasing levels of specific genes and microRNAs might be a targeted treatment for PLGGs,” says Rodriguez.

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