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Schizophr Bull. 2007 Nov;33(6):1343-53. Epub 2007 Feb 27.

eIF2B and oligodendrocyte survival: where nature and nurture meet in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia?

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Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia share common chromosomal susceptibility loci and many risk-promoting genes. Oligodendrocyte cell loss and hypomyelination are common to both diseases. A number of environmental risk factors including famine, viral infection, and prenatal or childhood stress may also predispose to schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. In cells, related stressors (starvation, viruses, cytokines, oxidative, and endoplasmic reticulum stress) activate a series of eIF2-alpha kinases, which arrest protein synthesis via the eventual inhibition, by phosphorylated eIF2-alpha, of the translation initiation factor eIF2B. Growth factors increase protein synthesis via eIF2B activation and counterbalance this system. The control of protein synthesis by eIF2-alpha kinases is also engaged by long-term potentiation and repressed by long-term depression, mediated by N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and metabotropic glutamate receptors. Many genes reportedly associated with both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder code for proteins within or associated with this network. These include NMDA (GRIN1, GRIN2A, GRIN2B) and metabotropic (GRM3, GRM4) glutamate receptors, growth factors (BDNF, NRG1), and many of their downstream signaling components or accomplices (AKT1, DAO, DAOA, DISC1, DTNBP1, DPYSL2, IMPA2, NCAM1, NOS1, NOS1AP, PIK3C3, PIP5K2A, PDLIM5, RGS4, YWHAH). They also include multiple gene products related to the control of the stress-responsive eIF2-alpha kinases (IL1B, IL1RN, MTHFR, TNF, ND4, NDUFV2, XBP1). Oligodendrocytes are particularly sensitive to defects in the eIF2B complex, mutations in which are responsible for vanishing white matter disease. The convergence of natural and genetic risk factors on this area in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia may help to explain the apparent vulnerability of this cell type in these conditions. This convergence may also help to reconcile certain arguments related to the importance of nature and nurture in the etiology of these psychiatric disorders. Both may affect common stress-related signaling pathways that dictate oligodendrocyte viability and synaptic plasticity.

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