Genetic predisposition to schizophrenia: what did we learn and what does the future hold?
Schizophrenia is a complex, devastating brain disorder with clear genetic and environmental contributions to the emergence of the disease. In the last several decades of research hundreds of millions of dollars were spent of the elusive search for schizophrenia susceptibility genes, but the results have been meager. Researchers have identified a number of genetic variants that predispose the brain to developing the disease, yet alone they can explain only a very small number of the
... occurrence. Vulnerability in DISC1, NRG1, DTNBP1, RGS4, KCNH2, COMT, AKT1 and other putative schizophrenia genes, together with copy number variants, leave unexplained the vast majority of diseased cases. Furthermore, most of the uncovered disease-associated genetic variants have been inconsistently replicated across multiple cohorts and do not lead to altered protein structure. In summary, we argue that large-scale genetic studies will not provide us with the answers we seek: we have to accept that there are no schizophrenia-predisposing genes with large effect sizes, and due to the diversity of findings, genetics-based novel therapies of schizophrenia are not realistic. The new treatments will have to come from functional studies of intracellular pathways and understanding the confluence of environmental influences and genetic predisposition, and their combined effects on developmental mechanisms and intracellular cascades.