NARSAD Grantees Reverse Schizophrenia Symptoms in Adult Animals

Lin Mei, M.D., Ph.D., Expert on schizophrenia
Lin Mei, M.D., Ph.D.

A new study by Brain & Behavior Research Foundation NARSAD Grantees Lin Mei, M.D., Ph.D., Dong-Min Yin, Ph.D., and Graham Bean, Ph.D., of the Medical College of Georgia and their colleagues found that when they restored “normal” levels of a gene whose over expression is known to be associated with the development of schizophrenia in some patients, behavioral symptoms were corrected. In the process, using animal models, they also identified a previously unknown potential pathological mechanism (an enzyme called LIMK1) that was triggered by over expression of the Neuregulin 1 (NRG1) gene. The study was published May 22, 2013 in Neuron.

Schizophrenia is thought to stem from derailed brain development that has lasting consequences into adulthood. Much like a bad foundation can weaken the structure of an entire house, research suggests that the subtle miswiring of the brain early in life can cascade into a host of other problems for the brain, and increase a person’s risk for succumbing to schizophrenia in early adulthood. In some cases, this faulty wiring has been linked to high levels of Neuregelin 1 gene levels.

Senior author Dr. Lin Mei from the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University explains the team’s work: “They genetically engineered mice so they could turn up levels of NRG1 to mimic high levels found in some patients then return levels to normal. They found that when elevated, mice were hyperactive, couldn’t remember what they had just learned and couldn’t ignore distracting background or white noise. When they returned NRG1 levels to normal in adult mice, the schizophrenia-like symptoms went away.”

Although the brain has less capacity for change in adulthood, the new results suggest that it may be possible to recover, at least in part, from a long-standing malfunction.  This means that therapeutic strategies aiming to fix such developmental glitches could help people who have already developed schizophrenia.

Read more about the study in

Read the study abstract in Neuron

Read the National Institutes of Mental Health’s study announcement

Article comments

Hello I been with my fiance for a year. She has a all the symptoms for schitzophrenia. She has a high sex drive but seems to hit a wall before she climaxes. With negative things being told to her and more. She fights to stay true to herself, gets upset at the voices often. I can't help but say that I love her very much and she tells me she feels like I heel her. She use to be in a damaging emotional relationship. I feel she only needs a small nudge to restore her neuro network. So if any one hear me please email at

"This means that therapeutic strategies aiming to fix such developmental glitches could help people who have already developed schizophrenia." Please be specific about the therapeutic strategies-- are you suggesting antipsychotic medicines (abilify, risperidol, etc). Or, do medications The findings suggest that extended periods of relapse, as well as treatment with antipsychotics, have a detrimental effect on the brain. Do you agree with this study:

The likely practical implication for patients, according to the study authors, is that relapse prevention should be achieved with the lowest antipsychotic dose possible.

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Please note that researchers cannot give specific recommendations or advice about treatment; diagnosis and treatment are complex and highly individualized processes that require comprehensive face-to- face assessment. Please visit our "Ask an Expert" section to see a list of Q & A with NARSAD Grantees.
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