Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have completed the first survey of the entire human genome for genes that affect the susceptibility of individuals to developing clinical depression. 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 and his team have located a number of chromosomal regions they say hold the genetic keys to a variety of mental illnesses, including major depression and certain addictions. The survey was done in 81 families identified by individuals with recurrent, early-onset, major depressive disorder (RE-MDD), a severe form of depression that runs in families. The Pitt team’s findings are published today in the American Journal of Medical Genetics.
Researchers have found evidence supporting a relationship between SIDS and the 5-HTT gene in both African-Americans and Caucasians. They found a significant positive association between SIDS and the L/L genotype, and between SIDS and the 5-HTT L allele, and a negative association between SIDS and the S/S genotype. This information might eventually lead to the identification of infants at risk for SIDS. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) claims the lives of more than 2,500 American infants every year, and African American children are far more likely to fall victim than Caucasians.
Researchers in Pittsburgh have made significant progress in identifying the first susceptibility gene for clinical depression, the second leading cause of disability worldwide, providing an important step toward changing the way doctors diagnose and treat major depression that affects nearly 10 percent of the population. Research results show significant evidence for linkage of unipolar mood disorders to a specific region of chromosome 2q33-35 in women.