Conclusion

The complexity of affective disorders is a major limitation when their genetic bases are being studied. This could be attributed to their non-Mendelian mode of inheritance. Bipolar affective disorder and unipolar affective disorder are, in fact, phenotypes which do not appear to exhibit classic Mendelian recessive or dominant inheritance involving a single major locus. The presence of both environmental as well as genetic factors and phenotypic heterogeneity also represents important problems when dealing with these disorders. Genetic studies in affective disorder represent a powerful tool for investigating non-genetic factors involved in the aetiology of bipolar affective disorder and unipolar affective disorder. If one or more genes contribute to susceptibility to these common diseases it is reasonable to assume that these will be identified in the near future. Several consistent hypotheses are currently being tested and will, hopefully, lead to major advances. Potential genetic markers have been localized; some of these are directly linked to neurobiological hypotheses of the aetiology of affective disorders. A number of these chromosomal regions actually contain candidate genes for bipolar affective disorder and unipolar affective disorder. Specific mutations and modes of inheritance (trinucleotide repeats and anticipation) have also been implicated in recent studies. Future genetic studies will need to either confirm or refute these findings but should also investigate environmental factors which may be important in affective disorders. Chapter References

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