Recent findings indicate plasticity aberrations in schizophrenia and their treatment may need to be considered in the context of subpopulations with elevated and others with reduced plasticity. Childhood critical periods of experience-dependent plasticity are essential for the development of environmentally appropriate behavior and cognition. Disruption of critical periods can alter development of normal function and confer risk for neurodevelopmental disorders. While genes and their expression relevant to neurodevelopment are associated with schizophrenia, the molecular relationship between schizophrenia and critical periods has not been assessed systematically. Here, researchers applied a transcriptome-based bioinformatics approach to assess whether genes associated with the human critical period for visual cortex plasticity, a well-studied model of cortical critical periods, are aberrantly expressed in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They found:
- Across 2 dozen datasets encompassing 522 cases and 374 controls, the majority show aberrations in expression of genes associated with the critical period.
- Both hyper- and hypo-critical period plasticity phenotypes were observed at the transcriptome level, which partially mapped to drug candidates that reverse the disorder signatures in silico.
Smith MR, Readhead B, Dudley JT, Morishita H. Critical period plasticity-related transcriptional aberrations in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. [Published online ahead of print November 12, 2018]. Schizophr Res. doi:10.1016/j.schres.2018.10.021.