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Cognitive problem in schizophrenia traced to protein deficit in brain.

KANAZAWA, Japan, Sept. 14 Kyodo

Deficiency in a type of brain protein may be responsible for cognitive disorders such as an impaired ability to think or concentrate among some schizophrenia patients, a study published Friday in the American Journal of Psychiatry said.

The joint study by researchers from Kanazawa University and the University of Pittsburgh said understanding the role played by the protein LHX6 may pave the way for developing a treatment for cognition-related symptoms of the mental disorder, known to develop in about 1 percent of the population.

Treatments exist for symptoms including hallucinations and paranoia but an effective method has yet to be established for cognitive disabilities caused by the disease.

For the study, the team focused on the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which plays a central role in regulating cognitive functions. Using a U.S. brain bank, the team compared 42 brains of schizophrenia patients against the same number of brains of those without a history of mental illnesses.

Through the comparison, the team found that the amount of LHX6 was about 22 percent lower on average in the prefrontal cortex of schizophrenia patients compared with unaffected brains. It also found in the patients' samples a 32-46 percent reduction in the amount of nerve cell molecules playing a major role in moderating cognitive functions.

Since LHX6 promotes the growth of these nerve cells, LHX6 deficits in prefrontal cortex are believed to stall nerve cell functions, affecting the cognitive capacity of some schizophrenia patients, according to the study.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Sep 17, 2012
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