Browsing by Organization "Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland FIMM, Helsinki"

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  • Palo, Outi M (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    Bipolar disorder (BP) is a complex psychiatric disorder characterized by episodes of mania and depression. BP affects approximately 1% of the world’s population and shows no difference in lifetime prevalence between males and females. BP arises from complex interactions among genetic, developmental and environmental factors, and it is likely that several predisposing genes are involved in BP. The genetic background of BP is still poorly understood, although intensive and long-lasting research has identified several chromosomal regions and genes involved in susceptibility to BP. This thesis work aims to identify the genetic variants that influence bipolar disorder in the Finnish population by candidate gene and genome-wide linkage analyses in families with many BP cases. In addition to diagnosis-based phenotypes, neuropsychological traits that can be seen as potential endophenotypes or intermediate traits for BP were analyzed. In the first part of the thesis, we examined the role of the allelic variants of the TSNAX/DISC1 gene cluster to psychotic and bipolar spectrum disorders and found association of distinct allelic haplotypes with these two groups of disorders. The haplotype at the 5’ end of the Disrupted-in-Schizophrenia-1 gene (DISC1) was over-transmitted to males with psychotic disorder (p = 0.008; for an extended haplotype p = 0.0007 with both genders), whereas haplotypes at the 3’ end of DISC1 associated with bipolar spectrum disorder (p = 0.0002; for an extended haplotype p = 0.0001). The variants of these haplotypes also showed association with different cognitive traits. The haplotypes at the 5’ end associated with perseverations and auditory attention, while the variants at the 3’ end associated with several cognitive traits including verbal fluency and psychomotor processing speed. Second, in our complete set of BP families with 723 individuals we studied six functional candidate genes from three distinct signalling systems: serotonin-related genes (SLC6A4 and TPH2), BDNF -related genes (BDNF, CREB1 and NTRK2) and one gene related to the inflammation and cytokine system (P2RX7). We replicated association of the functional variant Val66Met of BDNF with BP and better performance in retention. The variants at the 5’ end of SLC6A4 also showed some evidence of association among males (p = 0.004), but the widely studied functional variants did not yield any significant results. A protective four-variant haplotype on P2RX7 showed evidence of association with BP and executive functions: semantic and phonemic fluency (p = 0.006 and p = 0.0003, respectively). Third, we analyzed 23 bipolar families originating from the North-Eastern region of Finland. A genome-wide scan was performed using the 6K single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array. We identified susceptibility loci at chromosomes 7q31 with a LOD score of 3.20 and at 9p13.1 with a LOD score of 4.02. We followed up both linkage findings in the complete set of 179 Finnish bipolar families. The finding on chromosome 9p13 was supported (maximum LOD score of 3.02), but the susceptibility gene itself remains unclarified. In the fourth part of the thesis, we wanted to test the role of the allelic variants that have associated with bipolar disorder in recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS). We could confirm findings for the DFNB31, SORCS2, SCL39A3, and DGKH genes. The best signal in this study comes from DFNB31, which remained significant after multiple testing corrections. Two variants of SORCS2 were allelic replications and presented the same signal as the haplotype analysis. However, no association was detected with the PALB2 gene, which was the most significantly associated region in the previous GWAS. Our results indicate that BP is heterogeneous and its genetic background may accordingly vary in different populations. In order to fully understand the allelic heterogeneity that underlies common diseases such as BP, complete genome sequencing for many individuals with and without the disease is required. Identification of the specific risk variants will help us better understand the pathophysiology underlying BP and will lead to the development of treatments with specific biochemical targets. In addition, it will further facilitate the identification of environmental factors that alter risk, which will potentially provide improved occupational, social and psychological advice for individuals with high risk of BP.