Researchers have shown for the first time that Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and schizophrenia have a shared genetic origin, indicating that the causes of these diverse conditions are biologically linked. The work was published in Nature Communications.

By analyzing the genetic profiles of almost 13,000 ALS cases and over 30,000 schizophrenia cases, the research confirms that many of the genes that are associated with these two very different conditions are the same.

In fact, the research has shown an overlap of 14% in genetic susceptibility to the adult onset neuro-degeneration condition ALS and the developmental neuropsychiatric disorder schizophrenia.
While overlaps between schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric conditions including bipolar affective disorder and autism have been shown in the past, this is the first time that an overlap in genetic susceptibility between ALS and psychiatric conditions has been shown.

The research was prompted by earlier epidemiological studies that showed that people with ALS were more likely than expected to have other family members with schizophrenia, and to have had another family member who had committed suicide.

The researchers say that they will continue to study the links between ALS and psychiatric conditions using modern genetics, epidemiology and neuroimaging, and in this way will develop new and more effective treatments that are based on stabilizing disrupted brain networks.

Paper: “Genetic correlation between amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and schizophrenia”
Reprinted from materials provided by Trinity College Dublin.