Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mouse research: Genetic footprints of anxiety?

A recent study, has determined that a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) in the BDNF (Brain deriver neurotopic factor) gene in humans, that substitutes a Met allele for Val, may be a predictor for increased susceptibility to anxiety/ depression. The study involved experiments with mouse homozygous for the Met allele and placing them in stressful situations. These mice exhibited considerable increase in anxiety over normal mouse when facing similar situations. Thus, a potential locus and mechanism for anxiety/ depression has become available.

It is interesting to note that a similar SNP that involves Met/Val substitution in the COMT gene has been implicated in schizophrenia and affects cognitive performance in frontal regions. In the COMT case though, those who have the Met allele are more fortunate, in the sense that the Val allele causes increased metabolism of dopamine and other catecholamines.

While a Met allele is good in a Schizophrenia gene, it has the reverse effect in a depression/anxiety gene! What exactly does the Met / Val difference mean for a gene?

Hat Tip: The Mind Blog

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