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Am J Hum Genet. 2004 Aug;75(2):204-19. Epub 2004 Jun 18.

Genomewide linkage scan for bipolar-disorder susceptibility loci among Ashkenazi Jewish families.

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Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.


The relatively short history of linkage studies in bipolar disorders (BPs) has produced inconsistent findings. Implicated regions have been large, with reduced levels of significance and modest effect sizes. Both phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity may have contributed to the failure to define risk loci. BP is part of a spectrum of apparently familial affective disorders, which have been organized by severity. Heterogeneity may arise because of insufficient data to define the spectrum boundaries, and, in general, the less-severe disorders are more difficult to diagnose reliably. To address the inherent complexities in detecting BP susceptibility loci, we have used restricted diagnostic classifications and a genetically more homogeneous (Ashkenazi Jewish) family collection to perform a 9-cM autosomal genomewide linkage scan. Although they are genetically more homogeneous, there are no data to suggest that the rate of illness in the Ashkenazim differs from that in other populations. In a genome scan of 41 Ashkenazi pedigrees with a proband affected with bipolar I disorder (BPI) and at least one other member affected with BPI or bipolar II disorder (BPII), we identified four regions suggestive of linkage on chromosomes 1, 3, 11, and 18. Follow-up genotyping showed that the regions on chromosomes 1, 3, and 18 are also suggestive of linkage in a subset of pedigrees limited to relative pairs affected with BPI. Furthermore, our chromosome 18q22 signal (D18S541 and D18S477) overlaps with previous BP findings. This research is being conducted in parallel with our companion study of schizophrenia, in which, by use of an identical approach, we recently reported significant evidence for a schizophrenia susceptibility locus in the Ashkenazim on chromosome 10q22.

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