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Psychiatr Genet. 1999 Dec;9(4):189-95.

Association between the dopamine D3 receptor gene locus (DRD3) and unipolar affective disorder.

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Department of Psychiatry, Eginition Hospital, Athens University Medical School, Greece.


Dopamine neurotransmission has been implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and, more recently, affective disorders. Among the dopamine receptors, D3 can be considered as particularly related to affective disorders due to its neuroanatomical localization in the limbic region of the brain and its relation to the serotoninergic activity of the CNS. The possible involvement of dopamine receptor D3 in unipolar (UP) major depression was investigated by a genetic association study of the D3 receptor gene locus (DRD3) on 36 UP patients and 38 ethnically matched controls. An allelic association of DRD3 (Bal I polymorphism) and UP illness was observed, with the Gly-9 allele (allele '2', 206/98 base-pairs long) being more frequent in patients than in controls (49% vs 29%, P < 0.02). The genotypes containing this allele (1-2 and 2-2) were found in 75% of patients vs 50% of controls (P < 0.03, odds ratio = 3.00, 95% CI = 1.12-8.05). The effect of the genotype remained significant (P < 0.02) after sex and family history were controlled by a multiple linear regression analysis. These results further support the hypothesis that dopaminergic mechanisms may be implicated in the pathogenesis of affective disorder. More specifically, the '2' allele of the dopamine receptor D3 gene seems to be associated with unipolar depression and can be considered as a 'phenotypic modifier' for major psychiatric disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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