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Striking studies

Striking studies

Also this week MedZine brings you the latest medical news on various medical specialisms. In this editorial some striking studies are highlighted. This week you can read about a mouse model for schizophrenia, the neuronal make-up that makes peopele behave differently and about heart valve disease because of unusual cholesterol.

Schizophrenic mice

Researchers at the Institute for Comprehensive Medical Science, Fujita Health University and the National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Japan, have identified an exceptional mouse model of schizophrenia. The findings are published in the Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. The researchers screened over 160 mutant mouse strains with a systematic battery of behavioral tests. They found that mice lacking the Schnurri-2 protein (Shn-2 KO) exhibits behavioral deficits and other brain features consistent with schizophrenia. These defecits included working memory deficits, impaired nest building behavior (a measure of self-neglect), decreased social behaviors, and anhedonia (loss of the ability to experience pleasure). The researchers also think that there might be a link between schizophrenia and inflammation, considering the fact that Shn-2 deficiency results in mild chronic brain inflammation. This inflammation leads to a unique alteration of the dentate gyrus. The finding might provide the groundwork for further studies to elucidate the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of this serious psychiatric disorder.

Why people tend to behave differently

In this weeks issue of the Cell Press journal Neuron new light is being shed on the working of the (ab)normal human brain. Researchers report about differences in the physical connections of the brain that are at the root of what make people think and behave differently from one another. The researchers mapped the exact brain regions where individual differences occur. The variation in the individuals' brain connectivity seems to vary more in areas that relate to integrating information than in areas for initial perception of the world. According to one of the researchers 'understanding the normal range of individual variability in the human brain will help us identify and potentially treat regions likely to form abnormal circuitry, as manifested in neuropsychiatric disorders'.

Increased risk of aortic stenosis linked to unusual cholesterol

In the New England Journal of Medicine scientists report about a large-scale study uncovering a genetic link to aortic stenosis. An international study, involving the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), found that an unusual type of cholesterol,  Lipoprotein A, appears to be a cause of aortic valve disease. According to one of the researchers 'high levels of this type of cholesterol are predicted primarily by an individual's genetic make-up with only modest influence from lifestyle or other factors.' These findings not only explain why heart valve calcification may run in families, but could also lead to the development of targeted medications that might slow the progression of valve disease and reduce the need for valve surgery in patients.

Source: Eurekalert

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