Characterized by what doctors call positive and negative symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, and confused thoughts, Schizophrenia is still difficult to treat and not very well understood. But a new study has found links in the way the vascular system develops during brain development and the consequent development of Schizophrenia later in life. Looking at the brains of deceased people with Schizophrenia, scientists have seen differences in the vascularization of tissue. And because the interaction between blood vessels and neurons is essential for the correct development of the brain, we can see how incorrect vascularization could affect brain development.
Scientists investigated the growth of stem cells from the skin of three patients with Schizophrenia and three without. And watching how the samples grew blood vessels and grew into neural cells, it was clear that the sample from Schizophrenic patients had an impaired ability to produce new blood vessels.
“To test the hypothesis that angiogenesis was compromised in the cells of patients with schizophrenia, a second experiment was performed. It consisted in exposing human umbilical cord epithelial cells to the substances produced by the nerve cells of the previous experiment. The same was done with chicken eggs, which served as in vivo model.
The umbilical cord epithelial cells have great capacity to form blood vessels, as well as the membrane just beneath the eggshell. Therefore, those were chosen to test whether the molecules produced by the neural stem cells of patients alter the angiogenic capacity of the cells. The results confirmed the results — substances produced by schizophrenia patients’ nerve cells can hold back the angiogenic capacity of the epithelial cells.
“Advances on this subject bring new perspectives for the treatment and diagnosis of schizophrenia,” Rehen says. Soon, he and his team plan to evaluate new biomarkers — that is, biological indicators, such as molecules that suggest the presence of the disease — that can identify the disorder regardless of symptoms. “This is a completely new approach on neuro-vascular mechanisms in mental disorders,” he concludes.”