Shared Genes May Link Five Major Pyschiatric Disorders: A Genome-wide Analysis

  1. Michelle DeVilbiss

    A recent genome-wide analysis has found that five psychiatric disorders, including autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, all may share common genetic risk factors. The article “Identification of risk loci with shared effects on five major psychiatric disorders: a genome-wide analysis “ from The Lancet states that “this study is the largest genome-wide analysis of psychiatric illness so far and the first to provide evidence that specific SNPs are significantly associated with a range of childhood-onset and adult-onset psychiatric disorders”. From this study, it was found that of the five disorders studied, single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at four loci exceeded the cutoff for genome-wide significance within the analysis. Furthermore, two of the significant signals were found to regulate calcium balance in the brain. This indicates that genes governing calcium channel activity in the brain may also play a crucial role in the development of these disorders.

    What are the next steps to further this research? How does this information influence the future development of treatment, prevention, and drug interventions? Do the potential similarities among these diseases alter current clinical distinction, and therefore change the way they may be diagnosed in the future?

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