Lay Summary

Bipolar affective puerperal psychosis – genome-wide significant evidence for linkage to chromosome 16. Jones et al. (2007) AJP 164, 1099-1104

Evidence indicates the childbirth-related triggering of Bipolar Disorder might run in families.  This study describes a systematic genome scan, searching for areas of chromosomes shared by women with postpartum psychosis (PP), which might contain genes playing a role in triggering PP. In this methodology, a set of DNA markers, evenly spaced throughout the entire genome, is used to identify variations in regions of chromosomes that are shared by affected members of a family.  Regions identified in this way may harbour genes that predispose individuals to illness.

The study included 36 families containing 54 sets of sisters, both of whom had a history of mood disorder and at least one member with experience of of PP.  The genome scan used 494 markers and identified two regions of chromosome shared more commonly than could be expected by chance. There was strong evidence for a region on chromosome 16 and moderate evidence for a region on chromosome 8.

There are many genes in these two regions and the number of families studied was relatively small. We are now conducting further investigations to narrow the regions and to confirm that they actually contain genes involved in PP.  Finding genes involved in PP will enhance understanding of the condition and offers the possibility of improvements in treatment and risk prediction.