Genetic study finds link between depression and stomach ulcers

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A new study published in the journal Nature Communication indicates a possible genetic association between stomach ulcers and depression. Research conducted by Australia has found a genetic link between susceptibility to peptic ulcer disease and psychiatric disorders such as major depression.

Helicobacter pylori is an incredibly common form of bacteria that resides in about 50 percent of the upper gastrointestinal tract of people. The bacteria came into the spotlight in the early 1980s when scientists revealed that it was directly linked to the development of peptic ulcers, but the majority of people infected with the bacteria do not directly develop ulcers. stomach.

The revolutionary discovery led to drugs that directly treat the disease. Yeda Wu, from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland, was always interested in other factors that may be involved in the development of peptic ulcer disease.

“As a medical student, I noticed how the gastrointestinal symptoms of some patients improved after treatment with psychotherapy or psychiatry,” says Wu.

Wu and his colleagues therefore set out to conduct a large genome-wide association study looking for models indicating genetic susceptibility to peptic ulcer disease. UK Biobank data covering more than 450,000 people was studied and eight genetic variations were found to be associated with the development of ulcers.

“Six of the eight variations can be related to the reasons why some people are more inclined to H. pylori infection, which would make them more susceptible to peptic ulcer disease, ”notes Naomi Wray, corresponding author of the new study.

Using a form of statistical analysis called Mendelian randomization, designed to reveal causal associations in big data, the researchers then uncovered a possible two-way relationship between major depression and these peptic ulcer-related variants.

Wu says this finding offers insight into why certain psychiatric conditions can often be linked to gastrointestinal disorders such as peptic ulcer disease. The study presents a number of hypothetical mechanisms that could explain how depression might influence or be influenced by stomach ulcers.

While more work is certainly needed to better understand this relationship, the study suggests that clinicians should consider psychological symptoms when treating patients with peptic ulcer disease.

“Although a causal relationship cannot be confirmed between major depression and digestive disorders (or vice versa), consideration of the clinical implications of a possible relationship is warranted,” write the researchers in the study. “When treating patients with [major depression], awareness of symptoms of digestion for [peptic ulcer disease] could help decide if further interventions are needed.

The new study was published in the journal Nature Communication.

Source: University of Queensland


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