New Genetic Links Found Between Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder

Recent research by the Psychiatric Genome-Wide Association Study Consortium in the journal Nature Genetics reveals that there are common genetic variations that contribute to a person’s risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

An international team of more than 250 researchers from 20 countries have completed a landmark study of the relationship between genetic variations and mental illness. Investigators report that the findings provide new molecular evidence that 11 DNA regions, including six regions not previously observed, are linked to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The researchers believe that the discovery of these genetic linkages will allow scientists to make major gains toward understanding the causes of these chronic, severe, and debilitating disorders.

The largest study of its kind was unique because researchers examined all or most of the genes of different individuals to see how much the genes vary from individual to individual. The study that focused on schizophrenia identified “strong evidence for seven different places in the human genome, five of which were new and two previously implicated, that contain DNA changes that are significantly associated with schizophrenia.

And in a joint analysis of a schizophrenia and bipolar disorder sample, the consortium found three different DNA regions in which both disorders reached genome-wide statistical significance. This suggests that these disorders, which have traditionally been considered quite separate, actually share some fundamental similarities.

Source: Nature Genetics