A recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry has revealed that individuals with schizophrenia have a genetic propensity to smoking and a reduced genetic risk of obesity. The study aimed to investigate the shared genetic underpinnings of schizophrenia and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors.
The research team analyzed genome-wide association study (GWAS) results to identify the number of shared genetic variants and specific shared locations between schizophrenia and CVD risk factors. The results showed extensive genetic overlap between schizophrenia and smoking behavior, as well as body mass index (BMI).
The findings imply that individuals with schizophrenia may be more affected by the addictive properties of nicotine, leading to a greater likelihood of smoking initiation, reinforcing effects, and severe withdrawal symptoms during abstinence. The authors suggest that smoking in people with schizophrenia may be a form of self-medication, compensating for genetically determined dysfunction of nAChRs (nicotinic acetylcholine receptors).
In contrast, individuals with schizophrenia are genetically predisposed to lower BMI. However, obesity is still more common in individuals with schizophrenia compared to the general population. The study indicates that factors other than common genetic variants contribute to weight gain in schizophrenia, including adverse effects of antipsychotics, symptoms, depression, and socioeconomic challenges that lead to unhealthy lifestyles.
Additionally, the study found specific shared locations between schizophrenia and other CVD risk factors such as waist-to-hip ratio, blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, lipids, and coronary artery disease. Half of the genetic variants influencing schizophrenia were associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, while the other half were associated with reduced cardiovascular disease risk. This suggests that subgroups of individuals with schizophrenia may vary in their genetic vulnerability to CVD.
Overall, this study highlights the complex genetic overlap between schizophrenia and CVD risk factors. The findings emphasize the importance of environmental factors in the development of obesity and other CVD comorbidities. Further research is needed to better understand the genetic mechanisms underlying these associations.
– “Characterizing the Shared Genetic Underpinnings of Schizophrenia and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors” – American Journal of Psychiatry