Alcohol researchers relate a genetic factor to anxiety in women

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.

New Tool for Studying Animal Models of Neurological, Psychiatric Diseases

U.S. government scientists have demonstrated that a miniature positron emission tomography (PET) scanner, known as microPET, and the chemical markers used in traditional PET scanning are sensitive enough to pick up subtle differences in neurochemistry between known genetic variants of mice. This “proof-of-principle” experiment “opens up a whole new, non-invasive way to study and follow transgenic or genetically engineered strains of mice that serve as animal models for human neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease or psychiatric diseases such as substance abuse, depression, and anxiety disorders,” said Panayotis (Peter) Thanos, lead author of the study.