Discuss: The Science of Schizophrenia

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Offline thedoc

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Discuss: The Science of Schizophrenia
« on: 22/07/2013 23:19:47 »
What do sufferers of schizophrenia experience, and why? Might the immune system be to blame? And could an avatar be the answer to treatment? This week we delve deep into the brain circuitry behind this psychiatric condition to uncover the causes, hear what drugs like ketamine can reveal about hallucinations and how a cartoon representation of the voices plaguing patients can block the symptoms. Plus, chemically induced pluripotent stem cells, a gene that leads carriers into snacking temptation and why babies can tolerate extended periods upside down inside their mothers...?
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« Last Edit: 22/07/2013 23:19:47 by _system »


Offline evan_au

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Re: Discuss: The Science of Schizophrenia
« Reply #1 on: 19/07/2013 22:53:27 »
If the immune system comes to regard a neurotransmitter as "hostile", that could cause an immune attack on the brain.
There are (at least) 3 possible immune targets for each neurotransmitter:
  • The neurotransmitter itself
  • The cell producing the neurotransmitter
  • The receptor for the neurotransmitter
  • Possibly the enzymes which break down the neurotransmitter (ready for the next signal via this neurotransmitter)
  • ...and there  are multiple points on each of these which could become an antigen
The Thymus gland in children "educates" the immune system that certain proteins are "normal", and should not be attacked. However, the Thymus shrinks in adolescence, and if the immune system is activated as an adult, the Thymus won't be able to protect those tissues.

Perhaps we need an "Artificial Thymus" which educates the immune system that these neurotransmitters are "normal", which would dampen the immune response against the specific neurotransmitter, without affecting the immune response to genuine attackers (bacteria & viruses).

(It has recently been reported that it is possible to detect some people at risk of developing Type 1 diabetes by detecting an immune response to insulin. It is suggested that this then develops into an immune attack on the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Perhaps an Artificial Thymus could help here too?)



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« Reply #2 on: 21/07/2013 13:07:45 »
There is peripheral tolerance though, evan. So even in the absence of a functional thymus it should be possible to tolerise or maintain tolerance. However, what might underlie some of these diseases is the loss of regulatory T cells that suppress responses to certain epitopes / targets. Lose this control and weakly / suppressed clones of partially self-reactive T cells or B cells can expand.