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Schizophr Res. 2007 Feb;90(1-3):1-14. Epub 2006 Nov 22.

Adult neurogenesis and schizophrenia: a window on abnormal early brain development?

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  • 1University of Manchester, UK.


Adult neurogenesis is one of the most rapidly growing areas in neuroscience research and there is great interest in its potential role in the pathophysiology of psychiatric illness. In parallel with early development, adult neurogenesis occurs through the proliferation of precursor cells which migrate to specific regions and differentiate into neurons with characteristics indistinguishable from existing mature neurons. These findings have led to the re-definition of the concept of network plasticity in the adult brain, to include the formation of new neurons as well as new connections. This review examines the idea that adult neurogenesis may be disturbed in schizophrenia. We discuss evidence for abnormal mechanisms of neurogenesis and expression of developmental genes in schizophrenia, the influence of antipsychotic drugs on neurogenesis and the role of candidate schizophrenia susceptibility genes in adult neurogenesis. The recent discovery of molecular markers transiently expressed in newborn neurons within adult neurogenic brain regions could be used to probe whether neurogenesis is disturbed in schizophrenia. Adult neurogenesis could also be used as a unique tool for investigating genes involved in early brain development using post-mortem brains. This is particularly relevant for brain disorders with developmental origins such as schizophrenia.

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