Alice Park reports on a gene that may prove to trigger depression in some people, for TIME:
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As powerful as genes are in exposing clues to diseases, not even the most passionate geneticist believes that complex conditions such as depression can be reduced to a tell-tale string of DNA.
But a new study confirms earlier evidence that a particular gene, involved in ferrying a brain chemical critical to mood known as serotonin, may play a role in triggering the mental disorder in some people.
Researchers led by Dr. Srijan Sen, a professor of psychiatry at University of Michigan, report in the Archives of General Psychiatry that individuals with a particular form of the serotonin transporter gene were more vulnerable to developing depression when faced with stressful life events such as having a serious medical illness or being a victim of childhood abuse. The form of the gene that these individuals inherit prevents the mood-regulating serotonin from being re-absorbed by nerve cells in the brain.