Depression predisposition genes discovered

Scientists analyzed a wide database of genetic data and found 80 genes that influence a patient’s predisposition to depression. They described the results of this work in an article published in the journal Nature Communications . 

Depression is a complex condition, the predisposition to which depends on genetic factors. The three main signs of this disorder are anhedonia (loss of the ability to experience joy), impaired thinking (negative perception of reality, an unjustifiably pessimistic view of the world) and motor retardation.

Depression affects one in five people in the UK every year and 322 million people worldwide suffer from it. Often this condition can be caused by a difficult situation in life – the loss of a loved one or other mental trauma. However, scientists still do not know why some people are very susceptible to depression, while others are more resistant to it. To get closer to answering this question, geneticists at the University of Edinburgh used data from the UK Biobank resource , which contains information about the genetics and health of about half a million people. In the study, the researchers analyzed the sequencing of the genomes of 322,580 people to find areas that may be associated with a predisposition to depression.

As a result, about eight dozen genes were under suspicion. Some of them are associated with the work of synapses – the junctions of nerve cells that allow them to communicate with each other and the cells of the body, transmitting chemical and electrical signals. Others regulate the work of the short processes of neurons – dendrites. 17 of the genes found were particularly strongly associated with depressive disorders. For 14 of them, the relationship with depression was first established.

The results were corroborated by data from 23andMe, a paid genome-reading company. According to scientists, their work will help understand the genetic mechanisms of depression in order to better fight it.

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