Many studies have shown that genetics play a role in depression. However, new research from two separate studies has identified a DNA region that could be linked to depression. Researchers at both King’s college London and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis set out to examine depression in two classifications of people, and came up with the same findings. “What’s remarkable is that both groups found exactly the same region in two separate studies,” said senior investigator Pamela A. F. Madden., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at Washington University. “We were working independently and not collaborating on any level, but as we looked for ways to replicate our findings, the group in London contacted us to say, ‘We have the same linkage peak, and it’s significant.’”
These new findings have not identified a specific gene, but are an important step in discovering the genetic implication this region has on depression. The Washington University researchers studied heavy smokers with depression from Australia and Finland, while the King’s College group examined families with chronic depression. “Major depression is more common in smokers, with lifetime reports as high as 60 percent in smokers seeking treatment,” said lead author Michele L. Pergadia, Ph.D. research assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University. Although both groups focused on different test subjects, the results were the same.
In a related article, Gerome Breen, Ph.D., lead author of the King’s College study added, “For the first time, we have found a genetic region associated with depression, and what makes the findings striking is the similarity of the results between our studies.” Both groups of researchers believe that the test subjects need to be characterized more selectively to determine how the genetic findings relate to the family history and the smoking. Additionally, they agree that although they have made a significant finding, more research needs to be done in order to isolate specific areas of the genome that are related to depression.
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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