Blame anxiety disorder on Genes: Finnish study

August 28th, 2008 - 4:30 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 28 (IANS) Finnish scientists have identified genes that influence human behaviour and some of them could predispose one to anxiety disorders. Previously, Iiris Hovatta’s team from Academy of Finland Research Programme on Neuroscience (NEURO), had explored the genetic background of anxiety in experimental models.

The current study follows up on these findings in humans using data collected as part of national health 2000 survey comprising 321 individuals who had been diagnosed with anxiety disorder and 653 healthy controls.

Hovatta said it was interesting that different genes showed evidence for association to specific types of anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, social phobias or generalised anxiety disorder.

“Environmental factors, such as stressful life events, may trigger an anxiety disorder more easily in people who have a genetic predisposition to the illness,” Hovatta said.

The focus in the team’s further studies will be to understand the molecular and cellular processes that link these genes to the regulation of anxiety behaviour.

Furthermore, the team’s international collaborators in Spain and the US are trying to replicate these findings in their anxiety disorder datasets to see whether the genes identified by Finnish scientists predispose to anxiety disorders in other populations as well.

Only by replicating the results firm conclusions can be drawn about the role of these genes in the predisposition to anxiety in more general.

A closer understanding of the genetics and neurobiology of anxiety disorders is expected to help improve treatment of the illness using both drugs and therapy-based approaches.

The results will be published in Biological Psychiatry in October.

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