Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Gene May Explain Worrywarts


By Karen Birchard
The Medical Post, January 7, 1997

WURZBURG, GERMANY - German researchers have come up with the first confirmation that genes play a role in determining how much a person worries.

In the past, there has been empirical evidence which suggested a genetic component in those with anxiety-related personalities, but the German discovery of a gene for anxiety may help doctors determine the best treatment and medication.

Just like there are variants in genes that determine eye or hair color, the variants in the newly discovered gene contribute to different levels of anxiety.

Drs. Klaus-Peter Lesch and Armin Heils, along with colleagues at the University of Wurzburg, working with the American Institute of Mental Health, published their findings in the journal Science.

According to the research, the gene encodes a transporter protein which helps serotonin uptake (serotonin is regarded as an anxiety modulator). One gene variant leads to more serotonin, while another variant leads to less of the chemical.

While the scientists dismiss ideas about gene transplant to make people calmer, they think the discovery could help in determining who should take Prozac, for example, and at what dosage, since Prozac interacts with the serotonin transporter.


Copyright 1997 Maclean Hunter Publishing Limited
Reprinted with permission.

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