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Twin studies for the investigation of the relationships between genetic factors and brain abnormalities in bipolar disorder

  • L. Squarcina (a1), C. Fagnani (a2), M. Bellani (a3), C. A. Altamura (a4) and P. Brambilla (a4) (a5)...
Abstract

The pathogenesis of bipolar disorder (BD) is to date not entirely clear. Classical genetic research showed that there is a contribution of genetic factors in BD, with high heritability. Twin studies, thanks to the fact that confounding factors as genetic background or family environment are shared, allow etiological inferences. In this work, we selected twin studies, which focus on the relationship between BD, genetic factors and brain structure, evaluated with magnetic resonance imaging. All the studies found differences in brain structure between BD patients and their co-twins, and also in respect to healthy controls. Genetic effects are predominant in white matter, except corpus callosum, while gray matter resulted more influenced by environment, or by the disease itself. All studies found no interactions between BD and shared environment between twins. Twin studies have been demonstrated to be useful in exploring BD pathogenesis and could be extremely effective at discriminating the neural mechanisms underlying BD.

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Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: P. Brambilla, Ph.D. M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Milan, Milan, Italy; Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Texas, Houston, TX, USA; Chair, EPA Neuroimaging Section; and Dipartimento di Neuroscienze e Salute Mentale, U.O.C. Psichiatria (Pad. Alfieri), Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Via Francesco Sforza 35–20122 Milan, Italy (Email: paolo.brambilla1@unimi.it)
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This Section of Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences appears in each issue of the Journal to stress the relevance of epidemiology for behavioral neurosciences, reporting the results of studies that explore the use of an epidemiological approach to provide a better understanding of the neural basis of major psychiatric disorders and, in turn, the utilisation of the behavioural neurosciences for promoting innovative epidemiological research.

The ultimate aim is to help the translation of most relevant research findings into every-day clinical practice. These contributions are written in house by the journal's editorial team or commissioned by the Section Editor (no more than 1000 words, short unstructured abstract, 4 key-words, one Table or Figure and up to ten references).

Paolo Brambilla, Section Editor

Footnotes
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Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences
  • ISSN: 2045-7960
  • EISSN: 2045-7979
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