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Am J Med Genet. 1999 Aug 20;88(4):398-406.

Analysis of the monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene in bipolar affective disorder by association studies, meta-analyses, and sequencing of the promoter.

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Department of Medical Genetics, University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK.


Monoamine oxidases catalyse the oxidative degradation of biogenic amines including neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline, dopamine, and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT). Three groups have reported positive associations of the monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene with bipolar affective disorder although other studies have been negative. In an extension of a previous study [Rubinsztein et al., 1996: Human Molec Genet 5:779-782] we report association studies of MAOA polymorphic markers and affective disorders. The polymorphisms comprised a CA-repeat microsatellite in intron 2 and a Fnu4HI G/T silent polymorphism at position 941 of the cDNA sequence. No significant differences were found when the control allele frequencies were compared with those in bipolar, unipolar, or combined bipolar + unipolar groups. Meta-analyses were then performed to include the data of all published studies using the MAOA microsatellite and Fnu4HI polymorphisms. Separate meta-analyses were performed for Caucasian and Japanese studies, as allele frequencies of the microsatellite in these populations were markedly different. Associations of bipolar affective disorder in pooled male and female groups were found with the MAOA microsatellite in both the Caucasian (P < 0.02) and the Japanese (P < 0.02) meta-analyses. In view of these positive associations, and as previous results have shown that coding variants do not account for the normal population variation in MAOA activity, over 1,300 bp of the promoter were sequenced in 22 bipolar cases and 1 control. A novel polymorphic promoter variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) located approximately 1,200 bp upstream from the translation start site was demonstrated. However, there was no association of this promoter VNTR with affective disorder. These results suggest that there may be functional variants in other regions of the MAOA gene or neighbouring genes that affect bipolar affective disorder risk.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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