Abnormal development process found for schizophrenia and depression

Specific minor physical abnormalities (MPAs) have been found for schizophrenia, which support an 'early' neuro-developmental model of the condition, say researchers from Hungary. They add that these MPAs could bear informational value for diagnostic, prognostic, and epidemiological purposes.

M Trixler and colleagues, from the University of Pécs, used the Waldrop-scale to detect the presence and absence of 57 MPAs in 30 patients with schizophrenia, 30 patients with bipolar disorder, and 30 healthy controls.

The team found that focusing on specific MPAs proved more effective in distinguishing between the disorders, rather than examining the total occurrence of MPAs.

Notably, the majority of MPAs were found in the head and facial region, with schizophrenic patients having higher rates of furrowed tongue, flat occiput (back, neck and occiput are at the same level), and primitive shape of ears than controls. In addition, there were higher rates of the phenogenetic variant of a wide distance between toes one and two.

Furthermore, compared with bipolar patients, schizophrenics had a higher prevalence of primitive shape of ears. However, the only difference in MPAs for bipolar patients compared with controls was a higher incidence of furrowed tongue.

The researchers comment that the findings of their study suggest an 'early defect during the development of the brain in both schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder,' that reflects an early abnormal development pathway toward later mental abnormality. This pathway could be influenced by both genetic and epigenetic factors, they add.

The study is published in Schizophrenia Research.

Schizophr Res 2001; 52: 195–201




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