Epigenetic Studies of Bipolar Disorder
Keywords:bipolar disorder; epigenetics; suicidal behaviour; genetics; psychiatric disorder; mood disorder
Abstract (summary):Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric illness characterized by recurrent fluctuations in mood and increased risk of suicide. Twin and family studies have identified the highly heritable nature of the disorder, but the limitations of the current DNA-centric paradigm underscore the need for a new perspective to gain a clearer understanding of its basis. This project investigates various facets of bipolar disorder from an epigenetic standpoint. We used mass spectrometry-based mapping of individual DNA modification differences of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene. Moreover, the epigenetic basis of suicidal behaviour in bipolar disorder was investigated using DNA methylation microarrays. We also used a newly-developed enrichment technique, mTAG, to interrogate chromosome-wide DNA modification profiles using tiling microarrays in post-mortem brains of bipolar disease patients and controls. Findings from these experiments highlight observable features of epigenomes of patients affected with mood disorders, and may further the understanding of the molecular origin of psychiatric diseases.