Gene linked with mental illness is studied

Nov 07, 2006

U.S. scientists have found a gene variant linked with mental illness is also linked with enlargement of a brain region that handles negative emotions.

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Central Texas Veterans Health Care System researchers focused on a gene related to the neurotransmitter serotonin. They found the region of the brain called the pulvinar is larger and contains more nerve cells in those carrying the gene.

Once specific nerve cells release serotonin, a molecule called the serotonin transporter, or SERT, brings it back into the cell. Drugs that prevent this re-uptake, such as Prozac, are frequently used to treat patients with depression.

The serotonin transporter gene has two forms, or variants: short, or SERT-s, and long, SERT-l. People carrying two SERT-s genes are more likely to experience depression than people with one or no SERT-s genes.

The researchers studied brains from 49 deceased people, with and without psychiatric illnesses. They found subjects carrying two SERT-s genes had pulvinar areas 20 percent larger and contained 20 percent more nerve cells.

The study is available online and will appear in a future issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Novel gene variants found in a difficult childhood immune disorder

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Korean tech start-ups offer life beyond Samsung

16 hours ago

As an engineering major at Seoul's Yonsei University, Yoon Ja-Young was perfectly poised to follow the secure, lucrative and socially prized career path long-favoured by South Korea's elite graduates.

NASA satellite sees a warm winter in the Western US

1 hour ago

While people in the eastern two-thirds of the U.S have been dealing with Arctic Air, the bulge in the Jet Stream over the eastern Pacific Ocean has been keeping the western third of the U.S. in warmer than ...

Recommended for you

Exploring the genetic origins of autism

Feb 25, 2015

The geneticist Sébastien Jacquemont is the new holder of the Canada Research Chair in Genetics of Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Associated Dysregulation in Energy Balance at the University of Montreal. He moved to the ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.