Schizophrenia is a lifelong mental illness caused by permanent changes in functioning that result from altered chromatin bookmarks regulating gene expression.
Per Dr William Walsh PhD and his six theories of schizophrenia, this condition is epigenetic in nature and is characterized by weak antioxidant protection, excess oxidative stress, and abnormal methylation of chromatin.
Schizophrenia has three major phenotypes, each with different symptoms and associated with different methylation imbalances. Schizophrenia is strongly heritable but fails to obey classical laws of genetic inheritance, as environmental insults are required to produce deviant epigenetic marks.
1. Schizophrenia is Epigenetic in Nature
A psychotic “breakdown” is usually followed by a lifetime of mental illness and misery. This often permanent change in functioning results from altered chromatin bookmarks that regulate gene expression. Since the deviant marks are maintained during future cell divisions, the condition doesn’t “go away”.
2. Weak antioxidant Protection:
Weak Antioxidant Protection is a Distinctive Feature of Schizophrenia Most schizophrenics exhibit a genetic or acquired weakness in antioxidant protection, which includes generally low levels of glutathione, cysteine, selenium, zinc, polyunsaturated fats, together with high levels of non-ceruloplasmin copper.
3. Oxidative Overload Produces Deviant Epigenetic Marks in Schizophrenia
Nearly all schizophrenia patients exhibit excess oxidative stress, which can alter epigenetic marks that permanently change gene expression. Examples include skin cancer developing after years of excessive sun exposure and lung cancer following years of cigarette smoking. The onset of schizophrenia occurs when oxidative stresses exceed the threshold level needed to alter chromatin marks that regulate gene expression.
4. Methylation Imbalances Promote Epigenetic Vulnerability to Oxidative Stress
Abnormal methylation of chromatin is a leading cause of epigenetic errors in gene expression. The combination of oxidative overload and a methyl imbalance can produce gene expression changes that result in a chronic schizophrenia condition. The two most prevalent forms of schizophrenia develop in persons who exhibit either (a) methyl overload or (b) methyl deficiency.
A. Overmethylation -
About 46% of persons diagnosed with schizophrenia exhibit excessive methylation of chromatin along with weak antioxidant protection. This schizophrenia biotype is a sensory disorder that generally involves auditory, tactile, or visual hallucinations.
About 28% of persons diagnosed with schizophrenia exhibit low methylation of chromatin together with weak antioxidant protection. This schizophrenia biotype essentially is a thought disorder with delusions and catatonic tendencies the primary symptoms.
5. Extraordinary Weakness in Antioxidant Protection Can Produce Schizophrenia in the Absence of Methyl Imbalances
The third major schizophrenia phenotype develops in persons with an inborn severe deficit in antioxidant protection. This condition is characterized by extraordinary anxiety, rapid mood swings, and often involves both auditory hallucinations and delusional beliefs.
6. Failure to Follow Classical Laws of Genetic Inheritance Results From the Epigenetic Nature of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is strongly heritable but fails to obey Mendel’s classic laws of genetic inheritance. Environmental insults are required to produce deviant epigenetic marks, and transgenerational epigenetic inheritance contributes to schizophrenia heritability by transmitting deviant epigenetic marks to one’s children and grandchildren.