On the origin of schizophrenia: Testing evolutionary theories in the post-genomic era.
Article (Accepted Version)
© 2019 The Authors. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. © 2019 Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology
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Considering the relatively high heritability of schizophrenia and the fact that it significantly reduces the reproductive fitness of affected individuals, it is not clear how the disorder is still maintained in human populations at a disproportionally high prevalence. Many theories propose that the disorder is a result of a trade-off between costs and benefits of the evolution of exclusively human adaptations. There have also been suggestions that schizophrenia risk alleles are accompanied with increase in fitness of affected persons or their relatives in both past and current social contexts. The discoveries of novel schizophrenia-related genes and the advancements in comparative genomics (especially comparisons of the human genome and the genomes of related species, such as chimpanzees and extinct hominids) have finally made certain evolutionary theories testable. In this paper, we review the current understanding of the genetics of schizophrenia, the basic principles of evolution that complement our understanding of the subject, and the latest genetic studies that examine long-standing evolutionary theories of schizophrenia using novel methodologies and data. We find that the origin of schizophrenia is complex and likely governed by different evolutionary mechanisms that are not mutually exclusive. Furthermore, the most recent evidence implies that schizophrenia cannot be comprehended as a trait that has elevated fitness in human evolutionary lineage, but has been a mildly deleterious by-product of specific patterns of the evolution of the human brain. In other words, novel findings do not support previous hypotheses stating that schizophrenia risk genes have an evolutionary advantage.
Keywords:Genetic fitness; Natural selection; Psychotic disorders
Source:Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 2019