Scientists pinpoint gene variations linked to higher risk of bipolar disorder

October 10, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified small variations in a number of genes that are closely linked to an increased risk of bipolar disorder, a mental illness that affects nearly six million Americans, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

"Using samples from some 3,400 individuals, we identified several new variants in genes closely associated with bipolar disorder," said Scripps Florida Professor Ron Davis, who led the new study, which was published recently by the journal Translational Psychiatry.

A strong tendency towards bipolar disorder runs in families; children with a parent or sibling who has bipolar disorder are four to six times more likely to develop the illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

While the for bipolar disorder is complex and involves multiple genes, it appears to be associated with a known as cyclic (cAMP) . The Davis laboratory and others have previously shown that the cAMP signaling plays a critical role in learning and . The new study focused on this signaling pathway.

"As far as I know, this has not been done before—to query a single signaling pathway," said Davis. "This is a new approach. The idea is if there are variants in one gene in the pathway that are associated with bipolar disorder, it makes sense there would be variants in other genes of the same signaling pathway also associated with the disorder."

The new study examined variations in 29 genes found in the two common types of bipolar disorder—bipolar disorder I (the most common form and the most severe) and bipolar disorder II. Genes from a total of 1,172 individuals with bipolar disorder I; 516 individuals with bipolar disorder II; and 1,728 controls were analyzed.

Several statistically significant associations were noted between bipolar disorder I and variants in the PDE10A gene. Associations were also found between bipolar disorder II and variants in the DISC1 and GNAS genes.

Davis noted that the location of PDE10A gene expression in the striatum, the part of the brain associated with , decision making and motivation, makes it especially interesting as a therapeutic target.

Explore further: Making sense out of the biological matrix of bipolar disorder

More information: "Genetic Association of Cyclic AMP Signaling Genes with Bipolar Disorder,"

Related Stories

Making sense out of the biological matrix of bipolar disorder

August 20, 2012

The more that we understand the brain, the more complex it becomes. The same can be said about the genetics and neurobiology of psychiatric disorders. For "Mendelian" disorders, like Huntington disease, mutation of a single ...

Lawson researcher sings the baby blues

August 22, 2012

The impact of bipolar disorder during pregnancy has been hotly contended among the research community. Now, a new study from Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University is sorting out the debate and calling for ...

Recommended for you

Babies need free tongue movement to decipher speech sounds

October 12, 2015

Inhibiting infants' tongue movements impedes their ability to distinguish between speech sounds, researchers with the University of British Columbia have found. The study is the first to discover a direct link between infants' ...

Women and men react differently to infidelity

October 8, 2015

If your partner has sex with someone else, it is considered infidelity - even if no emotions are involved. But it is also considered infidelity when your significant other develops a close personal relationship with someone ...

Repeating aloud to another person boosts recall

October 6, 2015

Repeating aloud boosts verbal memory, especially when you do it while addressing another person, says Professor Victor Boucher of the University of Montreal's Department of Linguistics and Translation. His findings are the ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.