Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Common Genetic Variation May Underlie Different Mental Illnesses

An international group of psychiatric researchers has identified a 15% overlap between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in heritability attributable to common genetic variation, according to a study by the Cross Disorders Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, published online in Nature Genetics August 11.

The group of more than 300 researchers in 20 countries used genomewide genotype data from thousands of people and compared them with control subjects. Besides the relationship between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, there was a 10% overlap in heritability between bipolar disorder and depression, a 9% overlap between schizophrenia and depression, and a 3% overlap between schizophrenia and autism. The common genetic variants with small effects revealed in this and related studies will eventually be supplemented by other research on other variations.

“Shared variants with smaller effects, rare variants, mutations, duplications, deletions, and gene-environment interactions also contribute to these illnesses,” said study co-leader Naomi Wray, Ph.D., of the University of Queensland in Australia, in a statement accompanying the study. “Since our study only looked at common gene variants, the total genetic overlap between the disorders is likely higher.”

The study was funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Read more about the work of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium in Psychiatric News here.

(Image: Carlos Gardel/


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