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Diagnostics Genetics and epigenetics, Neurology

Heading in the Data Direction for Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most common neuropsychiatric disorders, affecting around 20 percent of the US population. Using data from the Million Veteran Program, 23andMe, UK Biobank, and FinnGen, researchers have conducted a large-scale meta-analysis of the genetic architecture of MDD (1).

They found that expression of NEGR1 in the hypothalamus and DRD2 in the nucleus accumbens were significantly associated with risk. Fine-mapping 178 risk loci also revealed overlapping expression for 17 genes, including TRAF3. The team validated the results against 1.3 million samples from 23andMe, which significantly replicated and confirmed their results.

“This study sheds light into the genetic architecture of depression and provides new insight into the interrelatedness of complex psychiatric traits,” says co-primary investigator Joel Gelernter (2). Their findings will enable identification of at-risk individuals and suggest suitable drugs for repurposing.

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  1. DF Levey et al., Nat Neurosci, 24, 954 (2021). PMID: 34045744.
  2. Tristan Horrom (2021). Available at:
About the Author
Liv Gaskill

During my undergraduate degree in psychology and Master’s in neuroimaging for clinical and cognitive neuroscience, I realized the tasks my classmates found tedious – writing essays, editing, proofreading – were the ones that gave me the greatest satisfaction. I quickly gathered that rambling on about science in the bar wasn’t exactly riveting for my non-scientist friends, so my thoughts turned to a career in science writing. At Texere, I get to craft science into stories, interact with international experts, and engage with readers who love science just as much as I do.

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