Common Genetic Ground Found for Depression, Schizophrenia, Autism

  • Share
  • Read Later

New research bolsters the idea that the risk for psychiatric and developmental disorders isn’t specific to particular conditions — and that could mean new opportunities to treat mental illnesses that focus more on their common genetic roots.

Mental illnesses like depression and schizophrenia clearly run in families, but neuroscientists have always assumed that the biological drivers behind these disorders were distinct. However, expanding on results reported earlier this year from psychiatry’s largest ever experiment, researchers now report that known genetic variations account for 17% to 29% of the risk for schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). And risk for one condition is often strongly linked with risk for others.

Published in Nature Genetics, the study was funded by the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) and involved collaboration between nearly 400 scientists in 20 countries working with genetic data from some 59,000 people.

(MORE: Most Common Psychiatric Disorders Share Genetic Roots)

Studying gene-based differences among the patients and in people who did not have mental illnesses, the scientists detailed with unprecedented precision how groups of the same genetic mutations could be linked to different mental illnesses. Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia were most highly correlated — a finding that jibes with both earlier research and the fact that the conditions can sometimes be mistaken for each other in the clinic. The latest data suggests that seemingly disparate symptoms — patients with bipolar experience extreme mood swings, while people with schizophrenia often suffer from delusions and paranoia — may not necessarily derive from different genes, but rather from different timing of exposures to risk factors, such as toxins or infectious disease during pregnancy, or early life trauma.

“It has long been hypothesized that psychiatric disorder diagnoses are superimposed onto an underlying spectrum,” says lead author Naomi Wray, associate professor of statistical and psychiatric genetics at the University of Queensland in Australia, referring to the idea that the same genes can produce different symptoms in different circumstances. “Our results provide direct empirical support for this.”

“We thought these were completely distinct diseases,” says Bruce Cuthbert, director of the division of adult translational research and treatment development at NIMH, explaining that the idea of a distinction between bipolar and schizophrenia has been a core part of psychiatry for over a century. But now, he says, “We’re gradually seeing that these are, in fact, highly related conditions and only appear different from the surface symptoms.”

(MORE: When Meditation Helps Mental Illness — and When It Hinders)

Some of the connections were less obvious. While bipolar and schizophrenia were the most strongly linked, and bipolar and depression were moderately linked (not surprisingly), the association between depression and schizophrenia was almost as strong as that between bipolar and unipolar depression. Prior studies had suggested the possibility that these conditions tended to occur in families, but since living with a severely mentally ill relative can be stressful and contribute to depression, it seemed more likely that such environmental reasons explained the connection rather than any inherited mutations.

The new results offer support for a new approach to diagnosis that NIMH’s director Dr. Thomas Insel announced in May. Noting that the current system hasn’t been particularly fruitful in generating new treatments, Insel said the agency would be moving away from funding research projects based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) categories, which classify disorders simply by noting clusters of symptoms. This often results in people carrying multiple diagnoses, since, for example, obsessive focus can be a symptom of both autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder and a lack of pleasureful emotions can be a symptom of depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

(MORE: Viewpoint: My Case Shows What’s Right — and Wrong — With Psychiatric Diagnoses)

Instead, the new Research Domain Criteria systems will look for the genetic roots of individual symptoms. That should reduce multiple diagnoses and improve genetic research by narrowing it down to specific problems with particular brain systems. And that could open up new ways of thinking about and treating mental disorders that may seem disparate in the clinic but actually share biological roots. If Grandma’s schizophrenia and Uncle John’s depression are caused by the same combination of genes affecting the brain’s motivational systems, it may be possible to target this system early to prevent John Jr. from ever becoming ill.

When the latest version of the manual, DSM-5, was issued in May, Insel told TIME, “We know that the DSM approach is not the way to understand these disorders. It may be a way to bill for them, but it’s not a way to develop science or even identify who should get what treatment.” The latest genetic findings suggest he may be right, and if mental disorders share more in common than previously thought, that could mean that more people might benefit from more targeted use of existing treatments as well, which is good news for those affected by some of the most devastating disorders in medicine.

MORE: DSM-5 Debate: Committee Backs Off Some Changes, Reopens Comments

57 comments
HinaNaz
HinaNaz

This content is written very well.Your use of formatting when making your points makes your observations very clear and easy to understand.Thank you.  SPC Angel Login ;
http://spcangel.loginq.com/

SamirRazaXhaikh
SamirRazaXhaikh

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly that love and read more on this topic. If possible, such as gain knowledge, would you mind updating your blog with additional information? It is very useful for me. \


moving in ottawa: http://www.mysmartmovers.ca

HinaNaz
HinaNaz

I can see that you are an expert at your field! I am launching a website soon, and your information will be very useful for me.. Thanks for all your help and wishing you all the success in your business.  how to get your ex boyfriend to text you back : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9CJTsEa4ys

SamirRazaXhaikh
SamirRazaXhaikh

Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting? I'm pleased I discovered it though, ill be checking back soon to find out what additional posts you include. 
boob job surgery :
http://trivalleybreasts.com/

SamirRazaXhaikh
SamirRazaXhaikh

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly that love and read more on this topic. If possible, such as gain knowledge, would you mind updating your blog with additional information? It is very useful for me. sham idrees sound cloud :
https://soundcloud.com/shamidrees

HinaNaz
HinaNaz

This is a good post. This post gives truly quality information. I’m definitely going to look into it. Really very useful tips are provided here. Thank you so much. Keep up the good works.   Miami SEO Expert :
http://www.linkedin.com/in/seoexpertmiami

HinaNaz
HinaNaz

I felt very happy while reading this site. This was really very informative site for me. I really liked it. This was really a cordial post. Thanks a lot!.  i want to be with this guy so bad : 
https://www.rebelmouse.com/addicthim/

HinaNaz
HinaNaz

I’ve been searching for some decent stuff on the subject and haven't had any luck up until this point, You just got a new biggest fan!..  deviantART Login :
http://deviantart.loginq.com/

ZubairKhatriSoomro
ZubairKhatriSoomro

Good post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Appreciate it! SEO Blog

SamirRazaXhaikh
SamirRazaXhaikh

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often. 
pure garcinia cambogia where to buy

SamirRazaXhaikh
SamirRazaXhaikh

Really a great addition. I have read this marvelous post. Thanks for sharing information about it. I really like that. Thanks so lot for your convene. 
tatil fırsatları

HinaNaz
HinaNaz

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly that love and read more on this topic. If possible, such as gain knowledge, would you mind updating your blog with additional information? It is very useful for me. flight attendant training

ZubairKhatriSoomro
ZubairKhatriSoomro

I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post. secret money system

ZubairKhatriSoomro
ZubairKhatriSoomro

This article was written by a real thinking writer.I agree many of the with the solid points made by the writer.I’ll be back. Ottawa Movers

HinaNaz
HinaNaz

 Nice to be visiting your blog once more, it has been months for me. Well this article that ive been waited for therefore long. i want this article to finish my assignment within the faculty, and it has same topic together with your article. Thanks, nice share.
UK Web Hosting

HinaNaz
HinaNaz

Nice to be visiting your blog once more, it has been months for me. Well this article that ive been waited for therefore long. i want this article to finish my assignment within the faculty, and it has same topic together with your article. Thanks, nice share. 

HinaNaz
HinaNaz

I can see that you are an expert at your field! I am launching a website soon, and your information will be very useful for me.. Thanks for all your help and wishing you all the success in your business.

denver seo agency

HinaNaz
HinaNaz

Most of the time I don’t make comments on websites, but I'd like to say that this article really forced me to do so. Really nice post!  Browse Around THIS Website

HinaNaz
HinaNaz

Hello, I have browsed most of your posts. This post is probably where I got the most useful information for my research. Thanks for posting, maybe we can see more on this. Are you aware of any other websites on this subject.   Why Not Try These Out