Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Schizophrenia, Bipolar Link Found. (Disorders May Share Gene Complex)

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Schizophrenia, Bipolar Link Found. (Disorders May Share Gene Complex)

Article excerpt

Bipolar disorder may be associated with a gene complex that previously was associated with schizophrenia, results of a new genetic study show.

The discovery marks the first time that bipolar disorder and schizophrenia have been associated consistently with a gene complex, according to Dr. Elliot Gershon, a psychiatrist and the study's senior investigator. "This supports what many of us have speculated in print for awhile, which is that there are some shared vulnerability genes for both forms of major mental illness--even though they're not inherited generally in the same families."

Dr. Gershon, professor and chairman of psychiatry at the University of Chicago, and his colleagues found that small differences in DNA called single nucleotide polymorphisms occurred in areas of chromosome 13q more frequently in families that had at least two members with bipolar disorder than in members of control families without the disorder. The area in question contains a complex of two overlapping genes-G72 and G30-that are not near other genes on the chromosome.

The study included 371 people from 22 extended families in pedigrees from the clinical neurogenetics branch of the National Institute of Mental Health and 474 people from 152 families in pedigrees from the NIMI-I Mental Health Genetics Initiative. Both pedigree series were made up primarily of people of European descent (Am. J. Hum. Genet. 72[5]:1131-40, 2003).

Specific and global differences in the gene complex were associated significandy with bipolar disorder in the clinical neurogenetics sample. In the NIMH sample, however, specific differences in the gene complex were not associated significantly with bipolar disorder. Only the global difference in the DNA sequence of the gene complex was significantly associated with bipolar disorder in the NIMH sample. …

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