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Researchers decipher manic gene
Date:8/31/2012

l Health in Mannheim. According to the data the gene is, however, not responsible for the depressive episodes in bipolar disorder.

Manic mice drank from sugar solution with abandon

A team working with Prof. Dr. Andreas Zimmer, Director of the Institute of Molecular Psychiatry at the University of Bonn, examined the molecular causes effected by the NCAN gene. The researchers studied mice in which the gene had been "knocked out." "It was shown that these animals had no depressive component in their behaviors, only manic ones," says Prof. Zimmer. These knockout mice were, e.g., considerably more active than the control group and showed a higher level of risk-taking behavior. In addition, they tended to exhibit increased reward-seeking behavior, which manifested itself by their unrestrained drinking from a sugar solution offered by the researchers.

Lithium therapy also effective against hyperactivity in mice

Finally, the researchers gave the manic knockout mice lithium a standard therapy for humans. "The lithium dosage completely stopped the animals' hyperactive behavior," reports Prof. Zimmer. So the results also matched for lithium; the responses of humans and mice regarding the NCAN gene were practically identical. It has been known from prior studies that knocking out the NCAN gene results in a developmental disorder in the brain due to the fact that the production of the neurocan protein is stopped. "As a consequence of this molecular defect, the individuals affected apparently develop manic symptoms later," says Prof. Zimmer.

Opportunity for new therapies

Now the scientists want to perform further studies of the molecular connections of this disorder - also with a view towards new therapies. "We were quite surprised to see how closely the findings for mice and the patients correlated," says Prof. Nthen. "This level of significance is very rare." With a view towards mania, the agreement
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Contact: Dr. Markus M. Nthen
markus.noethen@uni-bonn.de
0049-228-287-22347
University of Bonn
Source:Eurekalert

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