Many neurological and psychiatric diseases are synaptopathies

Synapses are fundamental brain structures that mediate information transfer between nerve cells. Signal transmission and information processing at synapses control all body functions and all aspects of cognition, including attention, perception, learning, decision making, as well as mood and affect. Epidemiological, genetic, proteomics, transcriptomics, and functional studies over the last decade have shown that synaptic dysfunction is central to the aetiology and progression of a wide range of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including neurodegenerative diseases, psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, autism, affective disorders such as depression, and many others, which can therefore be collectively regarded as synaptopathies.

The recognition of the fact that many psychiatric and neurological disorders are synaptopathies has certainly been a major breakthrough in both, psychiatry and neurology. This, however, represents mainly a conceptual advance. Functional follow-up studies have been very rare and therapeutic approaches based on the synaptopathy model are basically non-existent. This is due to the fact that the synaptopathy model poses six key conceptual or methodological challenges. The central objective of the EuroSPIN consortium is to systematically tackle these challenges with the ultimate aim of developing novel therapies.

 

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