Genetic factors are of major aetiological importance in Bipolar Affective Disorder (BPAD type I and II). The exact mode of inheritance of BPAD is unknown, but the recent demonstration of anticipation suggests that dynamic mutations could be involved in the clinical expression of the disease. We have used the repeat expansion detection (RED) method to test whether the anticipation in BPAD could be explained by the presence of expanded trinucleotide repeat sequences. Using a (CTG)10 oligonucleotide a significantly higher number of expanded CAG repeats were found in the genomic DNA of two independent samples of unrelated BPAD patients of Swedish and Belgian ancestry as compared with normal controls. The difference in repeat number was more consistent if data of the two samples of patients was pooled. In this study a CAG trinucleotide repeat expansion was associated for the first time with a major psychiatric disorder. It is possible that the CAG trinucleotide repeat expansion is involved in the clinical expression of BPAD and that it is the molecular basis explaining the phenomenon of anticipation observed in this disorder.
Copyright 1995 Academic Press, Inc.