Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hopkins-led study finds that chronic form of depression runs in families

07.09.2006
Findings validate search for possible genetic link

The odds are more than two to one that people whose close relatives developed chronic severe unipolar depression when they were young will have it, too, according to results of a multicenter analysis of more than 600 people and their families.

Results of the study, published in the September issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, with Johns Hopkins psychiatrist James B. Potash, M.D., as senior author, show that siblings, parents or children of people diagnosed with chronic major depression before the age of 31 have a 2.52-to-1 chance of also having the disorder. Moreover, first-degree relatives of patients diagnosed with chronic major depression before the age of 13 have a 6.17-to-1 chance of having it. "This chronic form of major depression can be uniquely disabling because of its persistence. Our finding that this aspect of the illness runs in families suggests the value of searching for contributory genes," Potash says, although he cautions that the results also could point to environmental factors, such as loss of a parent at an early age or physical and sexual abuse.

In this study, Potash and his team looked at 638 men and women diagnosed with early-onset major depression and 2,176 of their first-degree family members. The subjects were drawn from the Genetics of Recurrent Early-onset Depression (GenRED) project, a multicenter study of patients enrolled between 1999 and 2003 by Hopkins and other researchers.

Analysis showed that the 226 people interviewed in GenRED who were diagnosed before the age of 31 with chronic major depression had 352 family members who also suffered from this form of disease (37.8%), whereas the remaining 412 had a total of 148 relatives with chronic depression (20.2%). A breakdown of these results showed that 58 people diagnosed before the age of 13 with chronic major depression had 44 family members who also had the disease (48.9%). The remaining 69 people diagnosed with major depression before age 13 had 17 relatives (15.9%) with chronic illness.

"We have known for a long time that major depression runs in families, but we are still working on determining whether certain subtypes of the illness do so more strongly than others," says Potash. Our large study allows us the numbers to examine these questions in subgroups."

Potash credits lead author Francis Mondimore, M.D., of the Department of Psychiatry at Hopkins, with observing that many of the study participants reported having been depressed "as long as [they] can remember." This led Mondimore to focus on chronic -- or persistent -- depression over time. An estimated 30 percent of those with major depressive disorder have symptoms most or all of the time, with only incomplete remissions, over many years, according to Potash.

Mondimore says a similar technique, examining a subtype of illness, was used to discover a familial relationship in breast cancer in women -- a finding that paved the way to discovering a link between the BRCA1 gene and that disease.

Data for the GenRED project and for first-degree relatives was gathered using the Diagnostic Interview for Genetic Studies (DIGS), an method that documents the onset and duration of mood episodes and the presence or absence of such symptoms as loss of interest or ability to enjoy life, feeling guilty or down, fatigue, lack of concentration, loss of appetite or weight, and thoughts of death.

Study subjects were recruited to GenRED by the University of Iowa College of Medicine, Rush University Medical College, Columbia University Medical Center, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Major depression and chronicity were diagnosed using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-IV) -- a standard guide for the classification of mental illness. DSM-IV criteria for major depression include the presence of five or more depressive symptoms that have lasted for two or more weeks and that significantly impair the person's life. In the current study, subjects had to have been diagnosed with major depression before the age of 31, have at least one sibling with major depression who was diagnosed before the age of 41, and have no history of schizophrenia or bipolar (manic-depressive) illness.

GenRED II, a larger study now under way at Hopkins and five other sites, is recruiting 2,700 people to identify genes for major depression. Data also is being collected on other potential contributing factors, such as early childhood trauma. J. Raymond DePaulo Jr., M.D., director of the Department of Psychiatry, is the Hopkins principal investigator.

Eric Vohr | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.jhmi.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

nachricht Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>