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Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Oct 15;64(8):672-80. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2008.06.002. Epub 2008 Jul 17.

An association analysis of murine anxiety genes in humans implicates novel candidate genes for anxiety disorders.

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Research Program of Molecular Neurology, Biomedicum Helsinki, Finland.



Human anxiety disorders are complex diseases with largely unknown etiology. We have taken a cross-species approach to identify genes that regulate anxiety-like behavior with inbred mouse strains that differ in their innate anxiety levels as a model. We previously identified 17 genes with expression levels that correlate with anxiety behavior across the studied strains. In the present study, we tested their 13 known human homologues as candidate genes for human anxiety disorders with a genetic association study.


We describe an anxiety disorder study sample derived from a Finnish population-based cohort and consisting of 321 patients and 653 carefully matched control subjects, all interviewed to obtain DSM-IV diagnoses. We genotyped altogether 208 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (all non-synonymous SNPs, SNPs that alter potential microRNA binding sites, and gap-filling SNPs selected on the basis of HapMap information) from the investigated anxiety candidate genes.


Specific alleles and haplotypes of six of the examined genes revealed some evidence for association (p < or = .01). The most significant evidence for association with different anxiety disorder subtypes were: p = .0009 with ALAD (delta-aminolevulinate dehydratase) in social phobia, p = .009 with DYNLL2 (dynein light chain 2) in generalized anxiety disorder, and p = .004 with PSAP (prosaposin) in panic disorder.


Our findings suggest that variants in these genes might predispose to specific human anxiety disorders. These results illustrate the potential utility of cross-species approaches in identification of candidate genes for psychiatric disorders.

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