Date of this Version
Human Molecular Genetics 9:6 (2000), pp. 927–935.
The reputation of the field of psychiatric genetics has recently become tarnished in the view of many human geneticists. Too many linked loci were claimed and withdrawn, too many association studies published and not confirmed, and, more recently, too many new and different chromosomal regions have been implicated for the same disorder. Here, we summarize recent trends, focusing on research that moves away from traditional linkage studies. Some promising strategies include psychopharmacogenetics and consideration of endophenotypes such as neurophysiological and behavioral markers in addition to the clinical diagnosis. Utilization of rapid and automated methods for scoring genetic variants in large-scale association studies followed by multivariate analyses, which include environmental as well as genetic data, will likely fare better than traditional linkage analysis in disentangling the complex genetics of psychiatric disorders. Some notable areas of recent progress include quantification of the genetic complexity of autism, identification of genetic variants protecting individuals from alcoholism, and the description of several polymorphisms likely to be relevant to behavior and psychiatry. The most notable example may be a common variant that affects the transcription rate in the promoter for the serotonin transporter gene that may be relevant for individual differences in the response to common antidepressants.