Researchers have identified a genetic factor that appears to influence anxiety in women. Combining DNA analysis, recordings of brain activity, and psychological tests, investigators at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found that Caucasian and American Indian women with the same gene variant had similarly high scores on tests that measure anxiety. These women also had similar electroencephelograms (EEG) — recordings of brain electrical activity as unique as an individual’s fingerprints — that showed characteristics of anxious temperament, further strengthening the association of this shared genetic factor with anxiety. The study appears in the current issue of the journal Psychiatric Genetics.
A common genetic variant influences individual responses and adaptation to pain and other stressful stimuli and may underlie vulnerability to many psychiatric and other complex diseases, reports David Goldman, M.D., Chief, Laboratory of Neurogenetics, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and colleagues at NIAAA and the University of Michigan. COMT val158met Genotype Affects m-Opioid Neurotransmitter Responses to a Pain Stressor appears in the February 21 issue of Science.