How Is Bipolar Disorder Inherited Genetically?

  1. The Genetic Basis of Bipolar Disorder

    • Bipolar disorder has been associated with genetics because researchers of the condition see an association between family members who have bipolar disorder. That is, they notice a high incidence of siblings (especially identical twins) with the condition. A genetic basis is even more convincing because, due to genetic mapping, researchers can now pinpoint individual genes that differ between a normal brain and a brain belonging to someone with bipolar disorder.

    The Slynar Gene

    • Researchers of bipolar disorder have pinpointed one gene--the Slynar gene, found on chromosome 12--that may be inherited from parent to child. University College London and Danish researchers noted that 10 percent of their bipolar patients had the Slynar gene, which led them to believe that it plays a part in bipolar disorder due to mutations. These exact mutations are yet unknown, but this gene appears to be a stepping stone to further understanding of bipolar disorder's genetic basis.

    Gene Interactions

    • Other studies have hypothesized that bipolar disorder is not caused so much by individual genes as by gene interactions. One study, conducted by the National Institutes of Health, mapped the genome of bipolar disorder (as well as a separate genome for people who did not have bipolar disorder) and specified several genes whose interactions may contribute to, and even generate, the disease. For example, one gene, DGKH (on chromosome 13), was found to be located on a biochemical pathway that influences moods. It is dysfunctional genes such as these, researchers deduce, that contribute to the hereditary nature of bipolar disorder.

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