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Mol Psychiatry. 2008 Aug;13(8):742-71. doi: 10.1038/mp.2008.29. Epub 2008 Mar 11.

The genetics of bipolar disorder: genome 'hot regions,' genes, new potential candidates and future directions.

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Institute of Psychiatry, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.


Bipolar disorder (BP) is a complex disorder caused by a number of liability genes interacting with the environment. In recent years, a large number of linkage and association studies have been conducted producing an extremely large number of findings often not replicated or partially replicated. Further, results from linkage and association studies are not always easily comparable. Unfortunately, at present a comprehensive coverage of available evidence is still lacking. In the present paper, we summarized results obtained from both linkage and association studies in BP. Further, we indicated new potential interesting genes, located in genome 'hot regions' for BP and being expressed in the brain. We reviewed published studies on the subject till December 2007. We precisely localized regions where positive linkage has been found, by the NCBI Map viewer (; further, we identified genes located in interesting areas and expressed in the brain, by the Entrez gene, Unigene databases ( and Human Protein Reference Database (; these genes could be of interest in future investigations. The review of association studies gave interesting results, as a number of genes seem to be definitively involved in BP, such as SLC6A4, TPH2, DRD4, SLC6A3, DAOA, DTNBP1, NRG1, DISC1 and BDNF. A number of promising genes, which received independent confirmations, and genes that have to be further investigated in BP, have been also systematically listed. In conclusion, the combination of linkage and association approaches provided a number of liability genes. Nevertheless, other approaches are required to disentangle conflicting findings, such as gene interaction analyses, interaction with psychosocial and environmental factors and, finally, endophenotype investigations.

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