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Depression linked to genes associated with mood, anxiety

People affected by depression may have genes associated with anxiety, worry and low mood, a study suggests


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People affected by depression may have genes associated with anxiety, worry and low mood, a study suggests.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh studied the DNA of more than 300,000 people with ages ranging from 39 to 73 whose levels of neuroticism had been measured by a personality questionnaire.

Their analysis uncovered 116 gene variations linked to anxiety and worry, many of which share traits with genes linked to susceptibility to depression.

Diagnosis and treatment

Writing in the journal Nature Genetics, the researchers say their findings could help shed light on the causes of depression and provide information to improve diagnosis and treatment.

Lead author Michelle Luciano at the university’s Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology said: ‘We knew that part of the explanation is genetic differences between people, but it’s been a mystery which genes are involved.

‘These new results make a substantial contribution to solving that.’


Luciano M et al (2017) Association analysis in over 329,000 individuals identifies 116 independent variants influencing neuroticism. Nature Genetics. doi:10.1038/s41588-017-0013-8

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