Schizophrenia and other serious psychological disorders typically manifest during young adulthood or late adolescence. For years researchers have tried to find out causal factors, their associated triggers and prevention strategies.
A study performed by a team headed by Akira Sawa, director of the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center, appeared in the journal Science on Jan. 18 indicates that chronic stress during adolescence influences the function of a gene known to place people at risk for developing several types of mental illness. The study’s findings also indicate the importance in mental illness of epigenetics, which is the study of how people’s experience and environment affect the function of their genes.
In the paper, researchers describe a mechanism for why this happens, along with a possible drug that might help prevent the onset of the disease by targeting the stress system.
The study can be found: At the Journal Science.
Sawa A. Et al. (2013). “Adolescent Stress–Induced Epigenetic Control of Dopaminergic Neurons via Glucocorticoids” Science, Vol. 339 no. 6117 pp. 335-339. DOI: 10.1126/science.1226931.