The most current issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry has published a study conducted by researchers from the University of Bonn and the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim. The study showed that the NCAN gene may end up being responsible for some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Most people who suffer from bipolar disorder experience a roller coaster of extreme highs and lows that can be quite debilitating. Experts believed that the origins of the condition can be both hereditary and/or caused by the patient’s environment. The study on the NCAN gene may have been able to delve deeper into the cause of the mania experienced by some bipolar sufferers.
“It has been known that the NCAN gene plays an essential part in bipolar disorder,” reports Prof. Dr. Markus M. Nöthen, director of the Institute of Human Genetics at the University of Bonn. “But until now, the functional connection has not been clear.”
The study was conducted by researchers analyzing data from 1,218 patients, each with different levels of mania and depressive symptoms. For the study, they evaluated the patients’ clinical information, which researchers then tested statistically to see which of the symptoms were directly related to the NCAN gene. The data showed that the NCAN was responsible for the mania, but not the depression symptoms.
“Here it became obvious that the NCAN gene is very closely and quite specifically correlated with the manic symptoms,” says Prof. Dr. Marcella Rietschel from the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim.
According to the data the gene is, however, not responsible for the depressive episodes in bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder if often treated with antidepressant medications like Paxil and Effexor. Both Paxil and Effexor have been linked to serious side effects including violent thoughts and behavior and birth defects in babies born to mothers who take the drugs while pregnant. Some of those birth defects linked to Paxil and Effexor include PPHN, oral clefts, cleft palate, neural tube defects and heart, lung and brain defects.