April 26, 2018 (Phys.org) -- A global research project has mapped out the genetic basis of major depression, identifying 44 genetic variants which are risk factors for depression, 30 of which are newly discovered. The study, by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium and co-led in the UK by King's College London, is the largest study to-date of genetic risk factors for major depression.
Published today in Nature Genetics, the research finds that the genetic basis for major depression is shared with other psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and that all humans carry at least some of the 44 genetic risk factors identified in the study.
A significant number of the genetic variants identified in the study are directly linked to the targets of current antidepressant medications. Analysis of the data also suggests that having higher BMI is linked to an increased risk of major depression.
Previous studies have struggled to identify more than a handful of genetic variants associated with depression. By combining seven separate datasets, the research team included data on more than 135,000 people with major depression and more than 344,000 controls.