People with bipolar disorder switch between manic and depressive episodes. A Basler study now identified genes related to it.
One in a hundred people suffers from bipolar disorder during their lifetime. Genetics plays an important role: it is known from previous studies that many different genes naturally contribute to the development of the disease.
In a large-scale study, an international research team has identified twenty new regions in the genome that are involved in manic-depressive diseases. They report on this in the journal "Nature Genetics".
For the study, the researchers, including Sven Cichon from the University Hospital and the University of Basel with his team, compared the genetic material of 30,000 patients and 170,000 controls. The aim was to detect small differences in the genotype that occur more often in patients, but much less in controls. Experts call this type of research a "genome-wide association study".
In total, the research consortium identified 30 genomic regions related to bipolar disorder, 20 of which were previously unrelated to the disease, the University of Basel said.
Involved in insulin and pain regulation
Sven Cichon and his team were particularly involved in evaluating the data and identifying the biological function of the genes in the identified Erbgu sections.
Said genes contain, for example, the blueprint for ion channels that influence the activity of neurons. In addition, the analysis provided for the first time evidence that the regulation of insulin and factors of the regulation of pain by the body are associated with the development of the disease.
Moreover, the study showed that the differences between two clinically distinct types of bipolar disorder are also reflected in the genome. Type 1, associated with more pronounced manic and depressive phases, is more like schizophrenia at the genetic level, wrote the University of Basel. Type 2, which is milder, shows more genetic evidence of a relationship with depression.
Genome-wide association studies provide important clues to the biological basis of disease and may point to targets for new drugs.