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1.  Linkage analysis of plasma dopamine β-hydroxylase activity in families of patients with schizophrenia 
Human genetics  2011;130(5):635-643.
Dopamine β-hydroxylase (DβH) catalyzes the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine. DβH enters the plasma after vesicular release from sympathetic neurons and the adrenal medulla. Plasma DβH activity (pDβH) varies widely among individuals, and genetic inheritance regulates that variation. Linkage studies suggested strong linkage of pDβH to ABO on 9q34, and positive evidence for linkage to the complement fixation locus on 19p13.2-13.3. Subsequent association studies strongly supported DBH, which maps adjacent to ABO, as the locus regulating a large proportion of the heritable variation in pDβH. Prior studies have suggested that variation in pDβH, or genetic variants at DβH, associate with differences in expression of psychotic symptoms in patients with schizophrenia and other idiopathic or drug-induced brain disorders, suggesting that DBH might be a genetic modifier of psychotic symptoms. As a first step toward investigating that hypothesis, we performed linkage analysis on pDβH in patients with schizophrenia and their relatives. The results strongly confirm linkage of markers at DBH to pDβH under several models (maximum multipoint LOD score, 6.33), but find no evidence to support linkage anywhere on chromosome 19. Accounting for the contributions to the linkage signal of three SNPs at DBH, rs1611115, rs1611122, and rs6271 reduced but did not eliminate the linkage peak, whereas accounting for all SNPs near DBH eliminated the signal entirely. Analysis of markers genome-wide uncovered positive evidence for linkage between markers at chromosome 20p12 (multi-point LOD = 3.1 at 27.2 cM). The present results provide the first direct evidence for linkage between DBH and pDβH, suggest that rs1611115, rs1611122, rs6271 and additional unidentified variants at or near DBH contribute to the genetic regulation of pDβH, and suggest that a locus near 20p12 also influences pDβH.
doi:10.1007/s00439-011-0989-6
PMCID: PMC3193571  PMID: 21509519
2.  Neurohormonal and Inflammatory Hyper-Responsiveness to Acute Mental Stress in Depression 
Biological psychology  2010;84(2):228-234.
Depression is associated with dysregulated hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function, overactivity of the sympathoadrenal system, and increased levels of inflammation markers. It is not known whether these biological processes are disproportionately elevated in response to acute negative emotional arousal by mental stress (MS). The present study investigates responses of neurohormones and inflammatory markers to MS in 14 clinically depressed (age: 42±10 years; 50% female) and 14 non-depressed control participants (age: 39±6 years; 50% female). Heightened acute MS reactivity was documented in depressed participants (adrenocorticotropic hormone, ρ=0.001; Norepinephrine, ρ=0.042; Epinephrine, ρ=0.039), and a delayed increase in cortisol was observed (ρ=0.002). Inflammation markers increased more strongly in depressed vs. non-depressed participants (IL-6, ρ=0.027; tumor necrosis factor-alpha, ρ=0.050; and recovery C-reactive protein, ρ=0.003). It is concluded that depressed individuals display hyper-reactivity of neuroimmunological markers in response to acute negative emotions. This hyper-reactivity may serve a pathologic role in the elevated morbidity and mortality risk associated with depression.
doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2010.01.016
PMCID: PMC2875322  PMID: 20117167

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