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Sex-specific genes for depression

For the study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Zubenko and his colleagues compared genetic markers from 100 men and women with recurrent, early-onset major depressive disorder (RE-MDD) and 100 people with no history of this disorder, to find out which chromosomal regions were associated with the illness. RE-MDD is a severe form of clinical depression that runs in families and impairs the health and life span of family members.

Out of 19 chromosomal regions that were associated with the development of RE-MDD, 16 were significantly associated with the disorder in either men or women - but not both. Confirmation that one of these regions, located on chromosome 2, affects the risk of severe depression among women in 81 families identified by individuals with RE-MDD is published in today's issue of Molecular Psychiatry.

"We suspected there were at least a few different genes involved in making women and men susceptible to major depression," said lead author George S. Zubenko, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and adjunct professor of biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon University. "The results of this study suggest that sex-specific genes for recurrent major depression may actually be the rule rather than the exception."

According to the authors, these findings suggest important differences in the molecular basis of clinical depression in men and women, or sex-specific differences that determine resistence to stressful events. These genetic factors may contribute to differences in the symptoms of clinical depression in men and women, differential treatment responses, and the development of additional psychiatric disorders such as alcoholism and other substance use disorders that frequently accompany major depression and run in the same families. They may also influence the risk of developi
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Contact: Frank Sissingh
molecularpsychiatry@mednet.ucla.edu
310-206-6739
Molecular Psychiatry
1-Jul-2002


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