Genetic models of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

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Schizophrenia and affective disorder have been considered to be nosologically and etiologically distinct disorders. This postulate is challenged by progress in new biological research. Both disorders are strongly influenced by genetic factors; thus genetic research is a main contributor to this discussion. We review current evidence of the genetic relationship between schizophrenia and affective disorders, mainly bipolar disorder (the various genetic research methods have been particularly applied to bipolar disorder). Recent family and twin studies reveal a growing consistency in demonstrating cosegregation between both disorders which is difficult to detect with certainty given the low base rates. Systematic molecular genetic search for specific genes impacting on either disorder has now identified one gene which is apparently involved in both disorders (G72/G30); other candidate genes reveal some evidence to present as susceptibility genes with very modest effects for each of both disorders, although not consistently so (e. g., COMT, BDNF). There is room for speculation about other common susceptibility genes, given the overlap between candidate regions for schizophrenia and those for bipolar disorder emerging from linkage studies.