Saturday, August 6, 2016
A new study has found significant associations between certain genes and depression – the first time such an association has been reported in individuals of European descent
“We’ve seen previous findings from this type of approach in an Asian population, but not in a European one,” said Ashley Winslow, a geneticist with the University of Pennsylvania and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. The researchers compared whole genomes of individuals who had either reported a previous clinical diagnosis of depression or were currently under treatment for it, with those of individuals with no history of depressive disorders. The analysis revealed the existence of 15 regions in the genome that were altered in individuals reporting depression. The alterations were found in genes known to participate in the normal functioning of the nervous system or in its development. Some of these genes had previously been associated with other psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, but never with depression. The study obtained the samples from customers of the genomic company 23andMe. Previous studies of this nature used samples from patients with a clinical confirmation of diagnosis, but in this case the individuals self-reported their links with depression, said Dr Winslow. This allowed them to collect a lot more samples. But too ensure that the results were valid, they only analysed samples from individuals reporting having been diagnosed with depression or being under treatment for it. For further confirmation, the results were tested in other clinically collected samples, with similar results.