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Genetic Variation may Increase Premenstrual Depression Risk

A recent research has found that a particular genetic variation may be tied to an increased risk for severe premenstrual depression .

Known medically as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, this psychiatric condition affects approximately 8 percent of women in their childbearing years. It's characterized by bouts of major depression and/or anxiety and bad temper during the second half of the menstrual cycle. These symptoms settle with the onset of each menstrual period.

Now, scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the National Institute of Mental Health have suggested that their study might able to find gene differences that may clarify why some women have these mood disorders and others don't.

"Our initial hope in the study was that by looking at steroid-related genes like those for receptors for steroid hormones such as estrogen, we would be able to find gene differences that might explain why some women have these mood disorders and others don't. This study may begin to provide important clues to the nature of that susceptibility, said Dr. David R. Rubinow, the study's senior author and the Meymandi distinguished professor and chair of psychiatry at UNC School of Medicine.

The study is the first to discover a genetic variation linked to a mood disorder associated with endocrine changes during the menstrual cycle, Rubinow said.

The research involved 91 women for whom the authors prospectively confirmed a diagnosis of PMDD over at least three months. Another 56 women who had no history of mood disorders related to the menstrual cycle served as a comparison group. All the women provided blood samples for genetic analysis.

The team discovered four specific genetic variants, called single nucleotide polymorphisms, in one of the two genes that encode the estrogen receptor. The variants, which are differences in strings of DNA nucleotides A, G, C, or T, w
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