Study lays groundwork for possible therapies for bipolar disorders ;
Bipolar disorder, which affects about eight million Americans, takes a toll not only patients but also their families and communities.
A new study by scientists at the campus of the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) Florida has identified specific genetic variations closely associated with increased susceptibility to bipolar disorder and other conditions. The discovery may provide a target for new therapies.
In the new study, researchers focused on a gene known as PDE10A, one of the many genes that has been associated with bipolar disorder, and this gene produces proteins. These proteins help to regulate intracellular levels of a messenger molecule called cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate), which is involved in a variety of biological processes including learning and memory.
“We started with the idea that behavioral changes in bipolar patients may be due to these genetic variations messenger cAMP pathway,” said Ron Davis, chairman of the Department of Neuroscience at TSRI. “We realized that this was the case and, in fact, that these variations were in a specific gene for via cAMP messenger called PDE10A. The changes we found in the gene can alter the function of a form of PDE10A and drive susceptibility to bipolar disorder. ”
Research recently published by the magazine Translational Psychiatry , examined human brain tissue of patients with bipolar disorder and brain tissue of individuals without psychiatric disorder.
“The PDE10A19 protein is interesting because before we did not know existed in the human brain and because it is-not only in other primates mice or rats,” said research assistant Courtney MacMullen, the first author of the study. “Once we understand how this protein helps neurons remain healthy, we might be able to develop drugs to treat brain cells function abnormally when, as in patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.”
The results suggested PDE10A19 abnormal variations may alter cAMP signaling by interaction with another protein known as PDE10A2, restricting their activity and interrupting the whole process.
Davis that the complexity of gene expression in human brain is greatly underestimated, and that future neurogenetic studies should start with a thorough study of the capacity of each gene to encode proteins to avoid false conclusions, especially when it comes to the development of potential therapies.
“We need to know much more about this great family of enzymes and roles in disorders such as bipolar disorder ” he said.
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Posted in: Psychology & Psychiatry