The epigenetic markers are identified in the blood samples ( methyl chemical group) that differ between normal people and people with schizophrenia. The researchers developed a model that asses an individual’s possibility of having the disease.
An epigenetic marker controls the on and off of a gene. There are two types of markers;chemical (methyl group) and protein (histone) markers. The researchers developed an algorithm to assess the individual’s possibility of having schizophrenia condition. The markers identified by the algorithm are methyl chemical groups identified in the DNA present in the blood sample. The epigenetic markers differ for schizophrenia patients and normal people. The test is usually 80% accurate.
The study is published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.. According to Dr. Robert A. Waterland- professor at the Baylor College of Medicine “Although genetic and environmental components seem to be involved in the condition, current evidence only explains a small portion of cases, suggesting that other factors, such as epigenetic, also could be important.”
The methylation markers highlight certain regions in the genome called the CoRSIVs in schizophrenic patientsand studying these regions could uncover the epigenetic cause of the disease.
Waterland says “Because methylation patterns in CoRSIVs are the same in all the tissues of one individual, we can analyze them in a blood sample to infer epigenetic regulation on other parts of the body that are difficult to assess, such as the brain”.
The algorithm is an innovative method, as it considers factors which other studies did not take into account like smoking and use of antipsychotic drugs which is common in schizophrenia patients. “We consider our study a proof of principle that focusing on CoRSIVs makes epigenetic epidemiology possible,”- according to the study.