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Gene Region Seems Linked to Depression

TUESDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- A DNA region linked to depression has been identified by two different groups of scientists.

The studies by teams at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and King's College London in the United Kingdom pinpointed a region on chromosome 3 that contains up to 90 genes.

The Washington University group analyzed data from 91 families in Australia and 25 families in Finland, while the King's College London researchers looked at more than 800 U.K. families affected by recurrent depression.

"What's remarkable is that both groups found exactly the same region in two separate studies," Pamela A.F. Madden, a professor of psychology and senior investigator with the Washington University study, said in a university news release.

"We were working independently and not collaborating on any level, but as we looked for ways to replicate our findings, the group in London contacted us to say, 'We have the same linkage peak, and it's significant.'"

Both studies appear May 16 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

A number of previous studies have suggested that depression risk is influenced by genetics. It's likely that many genes are involved in depression, Madden said in a news release.

These new findings don't offer any immediate benefit for people with depression, but are an important step in improving understanding about what may be occurring at the genetic and molecular levels in patients with depression, Madden said.

Major depression affects about 20 percent of people at some point in their lives.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about depression.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, news release, May 15, 2011

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