Neurobiological Mechanisms of Mental Illness
The development abnormalities of the brain’s neural circuits may contribute to schizophrenia and autism. Our research group has been exploring the biological basis of the neural circuit abnormalities of schizophrenia and autism at multiple levels, such as the patients, cells, animals and molecules, by using a combination of clinical pathological, neuroimaging, genetic, animal behavior and molecular approaches. Our research interests focus on two main aspects: 1. We identify the susceptible genes related on abnormal neural circuits using genetic statistics and biological pathway analysis, and use computational theory and methods of brain imaging to understand the abnormal features of the brain structures and functions. Furthermore, we search for the interaction between the brain imaging properties and susceptible genes. 2. Based on clues from the genetic association, we generate the transgenic and knock-out mice models and investigate the molecular mechanisms of how these susceptible genes involve in the development of neural circuits (neuronal migration, axon/dendritic genesis, synaptic plasticity, etc.)
1. Zhang F, Xu Y, Shugart YY, Yue W, Qi G, Yuan G, Cheng Z, Yao J, Wang J, Wang G, Cao H, Guo W, Zhou Z, Wang Z, Tian L, Jin C, Yuan J, Liu C, Zhang D. (2015). Converging Evidence Implicates the Abnormal MicroRNA System in Schizophrenia. Schizophr Bull. 41(3):728-35.
2. Yue WH, Wang HF, Sun LD, Tang FL, Liu ZH, Zhang HX, Li WQ, Zhang YL, Zhang Y, Ma CC, Du B, Wang LF, Ren YQ, Yang YF, Hu XF, Wang Y, Deng W, Tan LW, Tan YL, Chen Q, Xu GM, Yang GG, Zuo XB, Yan H, Ruan YY, Lu TL, Han X, Ma XH, Wang Y, Cai LW, Jin C, Zhang HY, Yan J, Mi WF, Yin XY, Ma WB, Liu Q, Kang L, Sun W, Pan CY, Shuang M, Yang FD, Wang CY, Yang JL, Li KQ, Ma X, Li LJ, Yu X, Li QZ, Huang X, Lv LX, Li T, Zhao GP, Huang W, Zhang XJ, Zhang D. (2011). Genome-wide association study identifies a susceptibility locus for schizophrenia in Han Chinese at 11p11.2. Nat Genet. 43(12):1228-31.
3. Wu S, Jia M, Ruan Y, Liu J, Guo Y, Shuang M, Gong X, Zhang Y, Yang X, Zhang D. (2005). Positive association of the OXTR gene with autism in the Chinese Han Population. Biol Psychiatry. 58: 74-77.
4. Wang F, Sun Z, Cui LW, Du XK, Hong N, Zhang D. (2004). Anterior cingulum abnormalities in male schizophrenia with diffusion tensor imaging. Am J Psychiatry. 161:573-575.
5. Yang J, Si T, Ruan Y, Ling Y, Han Y, Wang X, Zhou M, Zhang H, Kong Q, Liu C, Zhang D, Yu Y, Liu S, Ju G, Shu L, Ma D, Zhang D. (2003). Association study of neuregulin 1 gene with schizophrenia. Mol Psychiatry. 8: 706-709.