Metabolic disorder and genetic differences associated with female depression

Summary: The researchers identified 11 DNA domains that were linked to depression in women and one in men. They also found that depression was associated with metabolic disease in women, which is an important new aspect to consider when treating depressive symptoms.

Source: McGill university

Depression is widely reported to be more common in women than men, with women being twice as likely to be diagnosed as men.

A new gender-specific study from McGill University has revealed that there are differences between male and female genes and their link to depression.

In a study of more than 270,000 people, researchers found that sex-specific prediction methods were more accurate at predicting an individual’s genetic risk of developing depression than prediction methods that did not specify gender. .

The researchers found 11 areas of DNA linked to depression in women and just one area in men. They also found that depression was specifically linked to metabolic diseases in women, an important aspect to consider when treating women with depression.

Although the biological processes involved in depression are similar in men and women, the researchers found that different genes were involved for each gender. This information may be useful in identifying future gender-specific treatments for depression.

This shows the outline of a man and the head of a woman
The researchers found 11 areas of DNA linked to depression in women and just one area in men. Image is in public domain

“This is the first study to describe sex-specific genetic variants associated with depression, which is a very common disease in both men and women. These findings are important to inform the development of specific therapies that will benefit both men and women while accounting for their differences,” says Dr. Patricia Pelufo Silveira, lead author and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry.

“Clinically, the presentation of depression is very different for men and women, as well as their response to treatment, but we have very little understanding of why this is happening at this time.”

About this genetics and depression research news

Author: Press office
Source: McGill university
Contact: Press office – McGill University
Picture: Image is in public domain

Original research: Free access.
“A sex-specific genome-wide association study of depression phenotypes in the UK Biobank” by Patrícia Pelufo Silveira et al. Molecular psychiatry


A sex-specific genome-wide association study of depression phenotypes in the UK Biobank

There are marked gender differences in the prevalence, phenotypic presentation, and response to treatment of major depression. While genome-wide association studies (GWAS) adjust for sex differences, to date no studies seek to identify sex-specific markers and pathways.

In this study, we performed a sex-stratified genome-wide association analysis for general depression with all UK Biobank participants (NOT= 274,141), including only unrelated participants, as well as with men (NOT= 127,867) and women (NOT= 146,274) separately.

Bioinformatic analyzes were performed to characterize common and sex-specific markers and associated processes/pathways.

We identified 11 loci conveying significance to the genome level (P< 5 × 10−8) in women and one in men. In both men and women, genetic correlations were significant between general GWA depression and other psychopathologies; however, correlations with educational level and metabolic characteristics, including body fat, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and triglycerides, were only significant in women.

Gene-based analysis showed 147 genes significantly associated with broad depression in the total sample, 64 in women and 53 in men.

Gene-based analysis revealed ‘regulation of gene expression’ to be a common biological process, but suggested sex-specific molecular mechanisms.

Finally, sex-specific polygenic risk scores (PRS) for broad-based depression outperformed total and opposite-sex PRSs in predicting broad-based major depressive disorder.

These findings provide evidence for sex-dependent genetic pathways for clinical depression as well as health conditions comorbid with depression.

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