Genetic epidemiologic studies reveal that relatives of bipolar (BIP) probands are at increased risk for recurrent unipolar (RUP), BIP, and schizoaffective (SA) disorders, while relatives of schizophrenia (SZ) probands are at increased risk for SZ, SA, and RUP disorders. The overlap in familial risk may reflect shared genetic susceptibility. Recent genetic linkage studies have defined confirmed susceptibility loci for BIP disorder for multiple regions of the human genome, including 4p16, 12q24, 18p11.2, 18q22, 21q21, 22q11–13, and Xq26. Studies of SZ kindreds have yielded robust evidence for susceptibility at 18p11.2 and 22q11–13, both of which are implicated in susceptibility to BIP disorder. Similarly, confirmed SZ vulnerability loci have been mapped for 6p24, 8p and 13q32. Strong statistical evidence for a 13q32 BIP susceptibility locus has been reported. Thus, both family and molecular studies of these disorders suggest shared genetic susceptibility. These two group of disorders may not be so distinct as current nosology suggests.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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