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The Arsenic (+3 oxidation state) methyltransferase (AS3MT) gene has been identified as a top risk gene for schizophrenia in several large-scale genome-wide association studies. A variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) of this gene is the most significant expression quantitative trait locus, but its role in brain activity in vivo is still unknown.
We first performed a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan of 101 healthy subjects during a memory span task, trained all subjects on an adaptive memory span task for 1 month, and finally performed another fMRI scan after the training. After excluding subjects with excessive head movements for one or more scanning sessions, data from 93 subjects were included in the final analyses.
The VNTR was significantly associated with both baseline brain activation and training-induced changes in multiple regions including the prefrontal cortex and the anterior and posterior cingulate cortex. Additionally, it was associated with baseline brain activation in the striatum and the parietal cortex. All these results were corrected based on the family-wise error rate method across the whole brain at the peak level.
This study sheds light on the role of AS3MT gene variants in neural plasticity related to memory span training.
Whether there are distinct subtypes of schizophrenia is an important issue to advance understanding and treatment of schizophrenia.
To understand and treat individuals with schizophrenia, the aim was to advance understanding of differences between individuals, whether there are discrete subtypes, and how fist-episode patients (FEP) may differ from multiple episode patients (MEP).
These issues were analysed in 687 FEP and 1880 MEP with schizophrenia using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale for (PANSS) schizophrenia before and after antipsychotic medication for 6 weeks.
The seven Negative Symptoms were correlated with each other and with P2 (conceptual disorganisation), G13 (disturbance of volition), and G7 (motor retardation). The main difference between individuals was in the cluster of seven negative symptoms, which had a continuous unimodal distribution. Medication decreased the PANSS scores for all the symptoms, which were similar in the FEP and MEP groups.
The negative symptoms are a major source of individual differences, and there are potential implications for treatment.
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