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," www.nature.com/tp/journal/v2/n … /full/tp201292a.html

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

Self-harm, suicide attempts climb among US girls, study says

November 21, 2017
Attempted suicides, drug overdoses, cutting and other types of self-injury have increased substantially in U.S. girls, a 15-year study of emergency room visits found.

Car, stroller, juice: Babies understand when words are related

November 20, 2017
The meaning behind infants' screeches, squeals and wails may frustrate and confound sleep-deprived new parents. But at an age when babies cannot yet speak to us in words, they are already avid students of language.

Simple EKG can determine whether patient has depression or bipolar disorder

November 20, 2017
A groundbreaking Loyola Medicine study suggests that a simple 15-minute electrocardiogram could help a physician determine whether a patient has major depression or bipolar disorder.

Non-fearful social withdrawal linked positively to creativity

November 20, 2017
Everyone needs an occasional break from the social ramble, though spending too much time alone can be unhealthy and there is growing evidence that the psychosocial effects of too much solitude can last a lifetime.

Cultural values can be a strong predictor of alcohol consumption

November 20, 2017
Countries with populations that value autonomy and harmony tend to have higher average levels of alcohol consumption than countries with more traditional values, such as hierarchy and being part of a collective. This new ...

A walk at the mall or the park? New study shows, for moms and daughters, a walk in the park is best

November 17, 2017
Spending time together with family may help strengthen the family bond, but new research from the University of Illinois shows that specifically spending time outside in nature—even just a 20-minute walk—together can ...

0 comments

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.