Nuclear DNA: Nuclear deoxyribonucleic acid (referred to as nDNA or simply, DNA) is what we commonly think of when we think of “genetics” and genes. It is the DNA in the nucleus of the cell. It is the DNA we learn extensively about in biology class when we learn about “meiosis” and the forming of “gametes”—the sperm and eggs that merge to create our precious children.
Mitochondrial DNA: The other type of DNA is located in little organelles in the cell cytoplasm called the mitochondria. It gets referred to as mtDNA.
The mitochondria are the “power-houses” of the cells. We inherit a set of mitochondria from the mother’s egg cell. Which of the mother’s mitochondria that ends up in the egg cell is random. When the egg starts splitting to form the ball of cells which will become the baby, some cells may get more of one type of mitochondria than another type. The distribution may not be exactly the same throughout the resulting body.
Disorders inherited from mitochondrial DNA can be much more difficult to determine. To complicate matters, nuclear DNA can affect the functioning of mitochondria, so some inherited diseases of the mitochondria can actually arise in the nuclear DNA.
Here is a partial list of some of the genetically transmitted medical disorders that doctors say can have psychotic symptoms. These are not labeled “psychotic disorders”:
Turner’s syndrome (XO karyotype)
Velocardiofacial syndrome (VCFS--22q11 deletion, also known as Shprintzen & DiGeorge syndromes)
congenital adrenal hyperplasia (*)
familial basal ganglia calcification
Klinefelter’s syndrome (karyotype 47,XXY),
acute intermittent porphyria.
Here are some links to information about inherited mitochondrial disorders causing psychosis. Sometimes, the only symptoms manifesting of a problem in mitochondria is in the brain, and may get diagnosed as “schizophrenia”.
Leigh syndrome, subacute sclerosing encephalopathy
Neuropathy, ataxia, retinitis pigmentosa, and ptosis (NARP)
Myoneurogenic gastrointestinal encephalopathy (MNGIE)
In addition, it is suspected that the stress of severe symptoms of fear, emotional dysregulation, anxiety, paranoia, delusions, and psychosis resulting from the child’s neurobiological brain disorder can cause severe oxidative stress and dysfunction of the mitochondria without the presence of an actual inherited mitochondrial disorder. It is possible, however, that there is a genetic predisposition to this oxidative stress.
Sadly, as we now discover more genetic causes of psychosis that were previously called "schizophrenia", rather than creating new labels for them, we apparently are still calling them "schizophrenia".
References and Notes
 Is Schizophrenia a Psychotic Disorder? - Dr. Henry Nasrallah
[*] CAH can cause anxiety and depression which can contribute to psychosis in predisposed individuals. Although psychosis is listed as a symptom by some doctors, a direct link has not been definitively proven. It is possibly just a secondary, contributing factor.
- MEDICAL Causes Still Called “Schizophrenia”-- Part 1
- Medical Causes Still Called “Schizophrenia” -- Part 2
- Medical Causes Still Called "Schizophrenia" -- Part 3
- Medical Causes of "Mental Illness"
- Why does a child get a “mental” diagnosis when it isn’t “mental”?
- Specific Genes Inherited from Both Parents May Lead to Type of "Schizophrenia" (How schizophrenia can skip a generation)
- What are some genetic causes of psychosis?
- What is Epigenetics
- Brain Health: Nutrition and Epigenetics
- Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Psychiatric Symptoms
- Nutrition, genes, and brain dysfunctions: Folate
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Last Updated: 16 November 2011