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Families with severe form of bipolar disorder help scientists narrow the search for disease genes

tribute to schizophrenia. The other circle has all of the genes that contribute to bipolar disorder, while the intersection of the two circles contains genes that are common to both diseases as well as for psychotic bipolar disorder.

The researchers carefully evaluated and took blood samples from 65 patients with bipolar disorder and from their extended families. They extracted blood cell DNA and scanned it with DNA probes, looking for matching sequences that are more likely to appear in those with mental illness than in those without it. By noting where these markers lay on chromosomes, the researchers were able to narrow in on where the genes were located.

Out of 65 bipolar disorder families studied, the 10 families in which 3 or more members had psychotic bipolar disorder showed strong genetic "linkage" to specific regions on chromosomes 13 and 22. These results differed significantly from those for all 65 families, which showed little or no linkage evidence in these two regions.

"These results confirmed our expectation that genes for the psychotic form of bipolar disorder are likely to be found in the same regions that show linkage to both bipolar disorder as a whole and to schizophrenia," says Potash.

One important implication of the study is that these "overlap genes" may contribute to brain abnormalities that are shared by bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and could help explain why the same anti-psychotic medications are effective treatments for both diseases, says Potash.

Authors on the report are Potash, Dean MacKinnon, Sylvia Simpson, Francis McMahon, J. Raymond DePaulo, Melvin McInnis, Peter Zandi, Virginia Willour, Tsuo-H. Lan, Yuqing Huo, Dimitrios Avramopoulos, Yin Shugart.


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Contact: Trent Stockton
tstockt1@jhmi.edu
410-955-8665
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
1-Apr-2003


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