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UC Davis scientists find clues in mood disorders

Researchers lead by UC Davis have found altered gene activity in people who suffer from major depression, a discovery that may one day help doctors better diagnose and treat the condition. The research, conducted by a consortium of four universities, appeared in the fall issue of PNAS (USA).

Scientists found that the fibroblast growth factor system, which is a family of proteins involved in the growth, development and maintenance of nerve cells, had an overall decrease in levels in patients who had major depressive disorder. Proteins are the products of gene expression.

"This study is the first to implicate this particular family of gene products in major depression," said Edward G. Jones, professor of psychiatry, director of the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience and a principal investigator for the study. "The fibroblast growth factor system is now important to consider when looking for causes of mood disorders."

The Pritzker Neuropsychiatric Disorders Research Consortium and the National Institute of Mental Health Conte Center supported the research.

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