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Munich Vulnerability Study – Familial vulnerability for affective disorders: Search for endophenotypes
With the increasing significance of molecular genetics, the identification of endophenotypes indicating genetic vulnerability becomes necessary. In an ongoing research project, neuroendocrinological, polysomnographic, neurophysiological, and psychometric variables are assessed in families with at least three members suffering from affective disorders, serving as endophenotypes for genetic vulnerability. Ten families with 64 risk probands (RP) are currently included. 21 RP did not show any history of psychiatric disorders. 43 RP showed a lifetime history of a psychiatric disorder, 15 of them were currently affected. Compared to control subjects without personal or family history of psychiatric disorders, we observed a pattern of endophenotypes comprising elevated cortisol response to the dexamethasone/CRH test, increased rapid eye movement (REM) sleep latency and elevated REM density during the first sleep cycle. Furthermore, we observed increased somatization scores associated with elevated late somatosensory EEG potentials. A genetic linkage analysis is planned in order to test for linkage between genetic markers and the proposed vulnerability markers.