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Vol. 50 (2010) No. 11 P 822-824



Hot Topics 7

The editorial of the new-year issue of Nature 2010 features "A decade for psychiatric disorders". The DALY estimation clearly shows that psychiatric disorders are the top source for burden of diseases to the individual life and society. Schizophrenia is a most devastating psychiatric disorder in which the onset is usually at youth and the cognitive dysfunction persists for life-long in some patients. Schizophrenia is associated with neurodevelopmental abnormalities. It has been unknown whether post-onset progressive pathology is also present in schizophrenia until the recent sophistication of in vivo neuroimaging techniques. Longitudinal neuroimaging studies on first-episode schizophrenia have shown a progressive deterioration of structure and function of neocortical regions in the early stage of the disorder. Insult to dendritic spines through glutamatergic dysfunction may underlie this process, which may in turn be a promising molecular target for intervention to improve the functional outcome of schizophrenia. More recently, the question of whether early intervention can be targeted at prodromal stage of schizophrenia has called special attention in psychiatry. In University of Tokyo, the integrative neuroimaging studies for schizophrenia targeting early intervention and prevention (IN-STEP) is ongoing. Through these efforts, we would like to contribute to the establishment of "youth mental health", where every youth in the community can know, prevent, and have easy access to needs- and value-based services, and pursue mental well-being and recovery.

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