Researchers have zeroed in on the specific gene that causes manic symptoms in individuals suffering from bipolar disorder.
NCAN gene plays a critical role in the manic symptoms of bipolar disorder, according to Researchers from the University of Bonn and the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim.
“It has been known that the NCAN gene plays an essential part in bipolar disorder. But until now, the functional connection has not been clear,” according to Markus M Nothen from the University.
The finding was based on genetic data available from 1,218 patients with differing ratios between the manic and depressive components. The researchers statistically tested the symptoms most closely related to the NCAN gene to determine that the NCAN gene is most specifically related to manic symptoms. However, the gene is not related to depressive episodes in bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder also known as manic-depressive disorder is a mental disorder characterized by abnormal mood shifts. Extremes of mood shifts in this disorder are accompanied by extreme fluctuations in level of energy and activity levels. The ability to perform everyday tasks is severely affected. A person suffering from this mental illness may suffer from suicidal tendencies and their relationships are affected as are their academic and career performance. While swings in mood from depression to mania is debilitating, the moods are normal in between. However, the condition is treatable and the person is capable of leading a normal life.
In the current research, the research team under Dr Andreas Zimmer attempted to study the impacts at the molecular level brought about by the NCAN gene. They experimented upon mice with the ‘knocked out’ gene, who were shown to have only manic components in their behaviors, not the depressive. In other words, the mice demonstrated a higher level of risk taking behavior and were also more active than the control group. The study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, additionally demonstrated increased reward seeking behavior in these animals.
The understanding on bipolar disorder has hugely increased over the last few decades from the days when the medical fraternity showed naïve optimism in the power of lithium. Today, the disorder is recognized as complex but the current understanding is also mature. This disorder is understood as treatable today. It is hoped that the current research outcome will lead to better treatment interventions and enhance the quality of life of the patients.