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Anxiety genes discovered

9th January 2012

Two genes that cause anxiety have been discovered by researchers at the Jan and Dan L. Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital.

The mouse study found that overexpression of corticotrpin-releasing hormone (Crh) and mutopioid receptor MOR 1 (Oprm 1) contributed to the anxiety and behavioural issues associated with excess MeCP2 protein.

MeCP2 is responsible for Rett syndrome in females early in life and MeCP2 duplication syndrome in males, which is often inherited from mothers.

Dr Rodney Samaco, first author of the study, explained: "We first identified the mouse model for MeCP2 duplication syndrome and then found people with the disorder in the clinic."

It was then found that MeCP2 was the major contributor to this phenotype in patients.

"We have now identified two genes involved in two major symptoms of the syndrome," he said, adding that this information may eventually be used to develop treatment for patients with conditions that lead to anxiety.

Anxiety is one of the primary mental health concerns experienced in the UK, and often leads to depression.

Studies have found that social problems are often one of the primary contributors to anxiety, particularly in the young.

Read about support and personalised care at Barchester care homes for anyone with mental health concerns.