More research supports genetic link between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

New research on the five major mental illnesses suggests that schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are traceable to the same genetic variations.

A study funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIH) found a strong overlap between these two disorders, as well as a link between bipolar disorder and depression, ADHD and depression, and schizophrenia and autism.

Changing classifications

The research, which involved comparing genome-wide data from thousands of people with and without mental health disorders, revealed that genetic variations were responsible for 17 to 28 percent of the risk associated with developing these types of mental disorders.

"Such evidence quantifying shared genetic risk factors among traditional psychiatric diagnoses will help us move toward classification that will be more faithful to nature," Bruce Cuthbert, Ph.D., director of the Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development at the National Institute of Mental Health, said in a statement.

Consistent with other data on schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, the study also has serious implications for diagnostics and research, researchers said.

People with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, depression and ADHD, previous research found, are more likely to have suspect variation at the same four chromosomal sites.

"Since our study only looked at common gene variants, the total genetic overlap between the disorders is likely higher," explained Naomi Wray, Ph.D., from the University of Queensland.

Results of the study are published in the journal Nature Genetics.

Source: NIH

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