Depression gene localized

Psychiatric disorders can be described on many levels, the most traditional of which are subjective descriptions of the experience of being depressed and the use of rating scales that quantify depressive symptoms. Over the past two decades, research has developed other strategies for describing the biological underpinnings of depression, including volumetric brain measurements using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and the patterns of gene expression in white blood cells.

During this period, a great deal of research has attempted to characterize the genes that cause depression as reflected in rating scales of mood states, alterations in brain structure and function as measured by MRI, and gene expression patterns in post-mortem brain tissue from people who had depression.

So what would happen if one tried to find the gene or genes that explained the “whole picture” by combining all of the different types of information that one could collect? This is exactly what was attempted by Dr. David Glahn, of Yale University and Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living, and his colleagues.

“They have provided a very exciting strategy for uniting the various types of data that we collect in clinical research in studies attempting to identify risk genes,” said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.

Their work localized a gene, called RNF123, which may play a role in major depression.

They set out with two clear goals: to describe a new method for ranking measures of brain structure and function on their genetic ‘importance’ for an illness, and then to localize a candidate gene for major depression.

“We were trying to come up with a way that could generally be used to link biological measurements to (psychiatric) disease risk,” said Dr. John Blangero, director of the AT&T Genomics Computing Center at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute. “And in our first application of this, in relation to major depressive disorder, we’ve actually come up with something quite exciting.”

While RNF123 hasn’t previously been linked to depression, it has been shown to affect a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is altered in people with major depression.

“We assume that the biological measures are closer mechanistically to the underlying disease processes in the brain. Yet, ultimately we are interested in the subjective experiences and functional impairment associated with mental illness,” added Krystal. “The approach employed in this study may help to make use of all of this information, hopefully increasing our ability to identify genes that cause depression or might be targeted for its treatment.”

Glahn said, “We still have more work before we truly believe this is a home-run gene, but we’ve got a really good candidate. Even that has been tough to do in depression.”

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1 thought on “Depression gene localized”

  1. I had suffered from severe depression and anxiety every day for 3 years. Over the last year my depression has really lessened for me. The worse years did not improve until I was hospitalized for 3 months during which I gave my permission for electronic current therapy. Slowly I sorted my way out of the darkness until one day I was sitting at home in the sun and felt the warmth of the sun and felt the connection of my first happy moment in almost 3 and a half years. After hospital I was lucky enough to know/meet earth angels who were of great support to me who were great listeners with only positive comments in regard to me, one in particular had experienced depression first hand. For me that gave me great comfort knowing that someone totally understood where I was in my depression at that time, it was great to hear that what I was feeling was normal and that my problems just felt bigger than to someone without depression, to me most things scared me, so having someone who understood was the start of real improvement my recovery started to move forward. I also walked with a friend everyday, she started work at 7am but would get up at 5.30am and encourage me mentally and physically. All these things aided my recovery including Efexor anti-depressant, and anti anxiety medication which I have managed to come off a little of the high doses over the past year or so. (only with Dr advice of cause) But lastly apart from writing myself positive reinforcement thoughts quotes or truths and putting them up on a wall where I would see them frequently helped sort some confinement and also anything causing stress I would write down in order of priority, I find that system extremely helpful. I call myself a survivor now and not a victim of depression. So after dragging myself into a church my spirituality also slowly helped the healing process, and last but not least weekly Yoga and meditation, relearning how to relax the mind body and soul.
    Ronald Draw

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