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Health & Medicine Five Very Different and Major Psych Disorders Have Shared Genetics

Five Very Different and Major Psych Disorders Have Shared Genetics

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First Posted: Feb 28, 2013 09:41 AM EST
DNA
Five very different psych disorders have something in common--genetics. (Photo : Flickr)

Five very different psych disorders may have something in common--genetics. Researchers have found that autism, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and schizophrenia all share common genetic underpinnings.

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The findings, published online in the journal The Lancet, conducted a genome-wide analysis of 33,332 cases and 27,888 controls. They found that, in particular, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in two genes involved in calcium-channel activity appeared to play a role in all five disorders. SNPs are DNA sequence variations that occur when a single nucleotide--A, T, C or G--in the genome differs between paired chromosomes.

In all, researchers found that SNPs in four regions were associated with all five disorders: two on chromosome 10, one on chromosome 3 and another on chromosome 12. The two on chromosome 10 included the L-type voltage-gated calcium-channel subunit CACNB2 and the one on chromosome 12 included another calcium-channel subunit called CACNA1C, which has been previously linked to bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and major depressive disorder.

So what does this mean exactly? It shows that a genetic variant plays a role in several diseases. In addition, it shows that calcium signaling, a key regulator of the growth and development of neurons, can influence many traits. The findings also imply that genetics can contribute to the prediction and prevents of psychiatric diseases.

One of the researchers, Randy Ross, is optimistic about what this research could mean for the future study of these diseases. In an interview with MedPage Today, he said that the study is a "beginning step to give us ideas that will eventually leave to new treatments." In the future, these findings could help researchers better target certain molecules for a new generation of psychotropic drugs.  It could also help scientists better understand how these disorders occur.

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