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Team Identifies Autoantibody That May Cause Schizophrenia

Understanding the complexities of schizophrenia is crucial for developing effective treatments. Recently, researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) shed light on a potential piece of the puzzle—a newly identified autoantibody linked to this disorder. Published in Cell Reports Medicine, their study unveils how this autoantibody, produced by the immune system and targeting the body's own tissues, may contribute to schizophrenia. As scientists delve deeper into the autoimmune aspects of schizophrenia, exploring factors like inflammation markers and the impact of substances like cannabis and psychedelics, they aim to refine treatment approaches and enhance our understanding of this challenging condition.

"Schizophrenia is a disorder that affects how people act, think, and perceive reality. It is often very difficult to treat because it has many different causes and symptoms. In a study published last month in Cell Reports Medicine, researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) have identified an autoantibody—a protein that is produced by the immune system to attach to a specific substance from the individual’s own body, rather than to a foreign substance like a virus or bacteria—..."

Autoimmunity has been shown to be the basis of an ever-increasing number of human diseases. Schizophrenia shares a number of genetic features with these autoimmune diseases and therefore could be an autoimmune disease itself. Several lines of evidence suggest that overactivity of dopaminergic pathways in some areas of the brain are involved in schizophrenia, but the apparent absence of an increase in dopamine turnover suggests that this hyperactivity could be mediated by a dopamine agonist rather than by dopamine itself.

The mechanism of inflammation of the immune system, for example, such circulatory markers as the neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) and mean platelet volume (MPV), has been shown in many studies to be associated with schizophrenia. In addition, it has been shown that the cannabidiol component reduces the activation of the acquired immune system. This study examined the differences in the levels of NLR and MPV among schizophrenia patients with cannabis use versus those without.

Just one moderate dose of psilocybinopens in a new tab or window (0.215 mg/kg body weight) -- commonly known as magic mushrooms -- was associated with a 13-point drop in depressive symptom severity versus placebo, lasting at least 2 weeks. (eClinicalMedicine)

Parental leave from work for postpartum mothers, especially paid leave for a minimum of 2 to 3 months, was protective against poor mental healthopens in a new tab or window. (Lancet Public Health)

Research findings supporting the use of antipsychotic medication for acute treatment of schizophrenia are relatively consistent and undisputed. However, the rationale for recommending long-term antipsychotic medication treatment - the current standard of care treatment strategy-- is unclear. A controversial hypothesis proposed recently suggests people with schizophrenia who are exposed to long-term treatment with antipsychotic medications have worse outcomes than people with schizophrenia who are not exposed to these medications. 

Psychedelics such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin (magic mushrooms), and mescaline exhibit intense effects on the human brain and behaviour. In recent years, there has been a surge in studies investigating these drugs because clinical studies have shown that these once banned drugs are well tolerated and efficacious in medically supervised low doses called microdosing. Psychedelics have demonstrated efficacy in treating neuropsychiatric maladies such as difficult to treat anxiety, depression, mood disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, suicidal ideation, posttraumatic stress disorder, and also in treating substance use disorders. 

* Schizophrenia is a complex disorder that affects how people think, act, and perceive reality.
* The exact cause of schizophrenia is still unknown, but research suggests that it may be related to autoimmune disorders, genetic factors, and environmental triggers.
* Studies have shown that individuals with schizophrenia have an increased risk of developing autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

*Autoimmune Disease*
* Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues.
* Research suggests that autoimmune disorders may contribute to the development of schizophrenia.
* Some studies have identified specific autoantibodies that may be associated with schizophrenia.

*Cannabis and Schizophrenia*
* Research has shown that cannabis use may be associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia.
* One study found that cannabis use was associated with increased inflammation markers in individuals with schizophrenia.
* Another study found that cannabidiol, a component of cannabis, may reduce the activation of the immune system.

*Psychedelics and Schizophrenia*
* Research has shown that psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline can be effective in treating mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety.
* Studies have also suggested that psychedelics may be effective in treating substance use disorders.
* One study found that psilocybin was associated with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms in individuals with treatment-resistant depression.

*Treatment of Schizophrenia*
* Antipsychotic medications are commonly used to treat schizophrenia, but some research suggests that long-term use of these medications may have negative effects on mental health outcomes.
* Some studies have suggested that certain treatment approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, may be more effective than medication in reducing symptoms of schizophrenia.

*Statistics*
* According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 1.1% of the adult population in the United States has schizophrenia.
* The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 24 million people worldwide have schizophrenia.

*Studies*
* A study published in Cell Reports Medicine found that an autoantibody was associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia.
* A study published in eClinicalMedicine found that a single dose of psilocybin was associated with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms in individuals with treatment-resistant depression.
* A study published in Lancet Public Health found that parental leave from work was associated with a reduced risk of poor mental health outcomes.

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