Genetic and Biologic Studies of Affective Illness

  • Elliot S. Gershon


The overall goal of our studies for some years has been to identify biological characteristics that are genetically transmitted factors in the affective disorders, mania and depression. Formidable obstacles to this goal are presented on the one hand by the unresolved issues in the genetics of these disorders, and on the other hand by the quantitative (as opposed to qualitative) biologic findings that have been found to distinguish persons with these disorders from normal controls. For a given patient or relative, there is always a degree of uncertainty both about the genotype underlying his psychiatric state and the genotype indicated by an enzyme activity or other quantitative variable. The question of whether the same genetic factor is producing both the biologic and the psychiatric findings in a given person becomes a complicated one, although still one that is subject to investigation. In this paper I shall discuss these issues, and review some of the strategies we have used in studying them in the Jewish population of Jerusalem, Israel.


Affective Disorder Bipolar Patient Bipolar Illness COMT Activity Affective Illness 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elliot S. Gershon
    • 1
  1. 1.National Institute of Mental HealthBethesdaUSA

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