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23-02-2011 | Mental health | Article

Gender-specific risks for psychosis inheritance identified


Free abstract

MedWire News: The daughters of fathers with psychosis are more likely to develop the condition than sons, while the sons of affected mothers are at greater risk than daughters, research suggests.

"Recent molecular genetic studies have demonstrated X-chromosome abnormalities in the transmission of psychosis," explain Jill Goldstein (Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts) and team.

But they add that previous studies on gender-specific risks for psychosis inheritance have produced inconsistent results.

To investigate further, the team studied data from the New England Family Study on 159 parents with psychosis and 114 age- and ethnicity-matched mentally healthy parents. Of the parents with psychosis, 59 had nonaffective schizophrenia spectrum disorders and 100 had affective psychosis.

The researchers assessed 203 adult sons and daughters of the parents with psychosis and 147 adult sons and daughters of the mentally healthy parents for the development of psychosis.

In total, 12.3% (n=25) of individuals with psychotic parents developed psychosis compared with 2% (n=3) of individuals with mentally healthy parents. Overall, a similar proportion of high-risk sons and daughters developed psychosis, at 13.5% and 11.2%, respectively.

However, further analysis revealed that the gender of the psychotic parent significantly and differentially influenced the risk for psychosis in sons and daughters.

Indeed, 18.8% of sons with psychotic mothers developed the condition compared with just 9.5% of daughters. Conversely, 15.2% of daughters born to psychotic fathers developed the condition compared with just 3.1% of sons.

The gender-specific risks for psychosis in offspring were similar for parental nonaffective and affective psychosis, the researchers note in the journal Schizophrenia Research. Goldstein and team conclude: "Results demonstrated sex-specific transmission of psychosis regardless of psychosis-type and suggest X-linked inheritance."

They add: "This has important implications for molecular genetic studies of psychoses underscoring the impact of one's gender on gene-brain-behavior phenotypes of schizophrenia."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Mark Cowen

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