Specific Glial Functions Contribute to Schizophrenia Susceptibility

A. Goudriaan, C.A. de Leeuw, S. Ripke, C. M. Hultman, P. Sklar, P.F. Sullivan, A.B. Smit, D. Posthuma, M.H.G. Verheijen

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Schizophrenia is a highly polygenic brain disorder. The main hypothesis for disease etiology in schizophrenia primarily focuses on the role of dysfunctional synaptic transmission. Previous studies have therefore directed their investigations toward the role of neuronal dysfunction. However, recent studies have shown that apart from neurons, glial cells also play a major role in synaptic transmission. Therefore, we investigated the potential causal involvement of the 3 principle glial cell lineages in risk to schizophrenia. We performed a functional gene set analysis to test for the combined effects of genetic variants in glial type-specific genes for association with schizophrenia. We used genome-wide association data from the largest schizophrenia sample to date, including 13 689 cases and 18 226 healthy controls. Our results show that astrocyte and oligodendrocyte gene sets, but not microglia gene sets, are associated with an increased risk for schizophrenia. The astrocyte and oligodendrocyte findings are related to astrocyte signaling at the synapse, myelin membrane integrity, glial development, and epigenetic control. Together, these results show that genetic alterations underlying specific glial cell type functions increase susceptibility to schizophrenia and provide evidence that the neuronal hypothesis of schizophrenia should be extended to include the role of glia. © 2014 The Author.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)925-935
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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