Bipolar Disorder Risk Heightened By Genetic Variant
Bipolar disorder risk is increased by a previously unrecognized susceptibility factor, according to a new study.
The research, led by Dr. Sven Cichon from the University of Bonn in Germany, found that genetic variation in the gene neurocan (NCAN) showed a significant association with bipolar disorder in thousands of patients. These findings were replicated in a follow-up study of tens of thousands of individual samples of bipolar disorder.
The researchers also noted that the mouse version of this gene, which is thought to be involved in neuronal adhesion and migration, is strongly expressed in brain areas associated with cognition and the regulation of emotions. In mice without functional Ncan, there appeared to be some perturbation in mechanisms associated with learning and memory, mechanisms which have been associated with the cognitive deficits in people with bipolar disorder.
"Our results provide strong evidence that genetic variation in the gene NCAN is a common risk factor for bipolar disorder," said Dr. Cichon. "Further work is needed now to learn more about the biological processes that NCAN is involved in and how NCAN variants disturb neuronal processes in patients with bipolar disorder."