Friday, June 27, 2008

Why DOESN'T the public know that Autism and Schizophrenia Are Found More Often in Offspring of Older Fathers?

Behav Brain Sci. 2008 Jun;31(3):264-265.
Animal models may help fractionate shared and discrete pathways underpinning schizophrenia and autism.Burne TH, Eyles DW, McGrath JJ.
Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, The Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, 4072, Australia.

Crespi & Badcock (C&B) present an appealing and parsimonious synthesis arguing that schizophrenia and autism are differentially regulated by maternal versus paternal genomic imprinting, respectively. We argue that animal models related to schizophrenia and autism provide a useful platform to explore the mechanisms outlined by C&B. We also note that schizophrenia and autism share certain risk factors such as advanced paternal age. Apart from genomic imprinting, copy number variants related to advanced paternal age may also contribute to the differential trajectory of brain development associated with autism and schizophrenia.

: Schizophr Bull. 2001;27(3):379-93. Links
Paternal factors and schizophrenia risk: de novo mutations and imprinting.Malaspina D.
Columbia University Department of Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute, NY 10032, USA.

There is a strong genetic component for schizophrenia risk, but it is unclear how the illness is maintained in the population given the significantly reduced fertility of those with the disorder. One possibility is that new mutations occur in schizophrenia vulnerability genes. If so, then those with schizophrenia may have older fathers, because advancing paternal age is the major source of new mutations in humans. This review describes several neurodevelopmental disorders that have been associated with de novo mutations in the paternal germ line and reviews data linking increased schizophrenia risk with older fathers. Several genetic mechanisms that could explain this association are proposed, including paternal germ line mutations, trinucleotide repeat expansions, and alterations in genetic imprinting in one or several genes involved in neurodevelopment. Animal models may be useful in exploring these and other explanations for the paternal age effect and they may provide a novel approach for gene identification. Finally, it is proposed that environmental exposures of the father, as well as those of the mother and developing fetus, may be relevant to the etiology of schizophrenia.

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