Replicating risk genres in bipolar disorder: The truth that matters

Bipolar disorder in replicating risk genres is necessary to start the most drastic bipolar disorder. It is a medical problem that has cropped up as a psychiatric disorder that is characterized by the swinging mood of the mind.

Bipolar issue, the most incredible manifestation of which was beforehand known as hyper discouragement, is a noteworthy aggravation of mindset portrayed by emotional episodes, rapture, abnormal amounts of vitality and gainfulness. A personality with bipolar expressive concern is not generally dependable or may not generally have the knowledge to report their manifestations effectively.

Designing of the mood through bipolar disorder

Replicating risk genres in Bipolar disorder full of feeling issue can have a sensational influence on the lives of everybody included and it is vital that family and companions are furnished with the accessible data and backing to help their adored one deal with their sickness, and significantly to care for their own particular psychological wellness and prosperity while administering to somebody with bipolar emotional issue. Mood designs in bipolar full of feeling issue are not predictable, it is therefore not usually imaginable to advise if a scene is reacting to treatment or commonly arriving at an end.

Consequences of the study

Despite the consequences of study by NewsPsychology, there is no general accord in the matter of what reasons bipolar emotional issue. The qualities of the hereditary qualities along with the mind science and life occasions are all said to add to onset of bipolar emotional disorder.

It is potentially the main condition where sufferers really ache for the arrival of a percentage of the manifestations and it stays a standout amongst the most captivating and incapacitating psychiatric problem. Folks with the issue have revealed significant levels of thoughts in the fields, for example, writing, music and history. Why not take a chance a chance and then talk about it? It is a challenge that you will gain the most out of the option you prefer.

Replicating risk genes in bipolar disorder

One of the biggest challenges in psychiatric genetics has been to replicate findings across large studies.

Scientists at King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry have now performed one of the largest ever genetic replication studies of bipolar affective disorder, with 28,000 subjects recruited from 36 different research centers. Their findings provide compelling evidence that the chromosome 3p21.1 locus contains a common genetic risk for bipolar disorder, the PBRM1 gene.

The locus at 3p21.1 has also been previously associated with depression and schizophrenia. Using a separate dataset of over 34,000 subjects, they did not confirm association of this same variant with schizophrenia.

Thus, they replicated the association of the marker with bipolar disorder, but not with schizophrenia. This is an interesting finding, in that it distinguishes the heritable risk for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. It contrasts with the majority of studies that have found that schizophrenia risk genes also contribute to the risk for bipolar disorder.

"This study adds to the recent rapid progress in identifying genes for mental illness. The last few years have seen the identification of about two dozen genetic loci for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia," commented first author Evangelos Vassos. "About half of these are shared between these two disorders, indicating they share some, but not all, genetic causes."

Due to the conflicting results, it is clear that more work is needed to determine the role this locus plays in psychosis, but the evidence seems solid that it is associated with bipolar disorder.

PBRM1, the gene implicated in this study, codes for a protein that is involved in chromatin remodeling or "epigenetics," meaning that it influences the ability of a variety of environmental exposures to influence the expression of a range of genes. It has also been previously implicated in the risk for a form of renal cancer.

"There is growing interest in epigenetic mechanisms that might contribute to the development of bipolar disorder. The implication of a gene involved in chromatin remodeling in bipolar disorder risk adds fuel to this fire," commented Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.

Vassos concluded that "future studies may be able to use this information to develop new treatments for these disorders."


Journal Reference:

  1. Evangelos Vassos, Stacy Steinberg, Sven Cichon, Gerome Breen, Engilbert Sigurdsson, Ole A. Andreassen, Srdjan Djurovic, Gunnar Morken, Maria Grigoroiu-Serbanescu, Carmen C. Diaconu, Piotr M. Czerski, Joanna Hauser, Gulja Babadjanova, Lilia I. Abramova, Thomas W. Mühleisen, Markus M. Nöthen, Marcella Rietschel, Peter McGuffin, David St. Clair, Omar Gustafsson, Ingrid Melle, Olli P.H. Pietiläinen, Mirella Ruggeri, Sarah Tosato, Thomas Werge, Roel A. Ophoff, Dan Rujescu, Anders D. Børglum, Ole Mors, Preben B. Mortensen, Ditte Demontis, Mads V. Hollegaard, Ruud van Winkel, Gunter Kenis, Marc De Hert, János M. Réthelyi, István Bitter, I. Alex Rubino, Vera Golimbet, Lambertus A. Kiemeney, Leonard H. van den Berg, Barbara Franke, Erik G. Jönsson, Anne Farmer, Hreinn Stefansson, Kari Stefansson, David A. Collier. Replication Study and Meta-Analysis in European Samples Supports Association of the 3p21.1 Locus with Bipolar Disorder. Biological Psychiatry, 2012; 72 (8): 645 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.02.040

Scientists pinpoint gene variations linked to higher risk of bipolar disorder

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified small variations in a number of genes that are closely linked to an increased risk of bipolar disorder, a mental illness that affects nearly six million Americans, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

"Using samples from some 3,400 individuals, we identified several new variants in genes closely associated with bipolar disorder," said Scripps Florida Professor Ron Davis, who led the new study, which was published recently by the journal Translational Psychiatry.

A strong tendency towards bipolar disorder runs in families; children with a parent or sibling who has bipolar disorder are four to six times more likely to develop the illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

While the genetic basis for bipolar disorder is complex and involves multiple genes, it appears to be associated with a biochemical pathway known as cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) signaling system. The Davis laboratory and others have previously shown that the cAMP signaling plays a critical role in learning and memory processes. The new study focused on this signaling pathway.

"As far as I know, this has not been done before — to query a single signaling pathway," said Davis. "This is a new approach. The idea is if there are variants in one gene in the pathway that are associated with bipolar disorder, it makes sense there would be variants in other genes of the same signaling pathway also associated with the disorder."

The new study examined variations in 29 genes found in the two common types of bipolar disorder — bipolar disorder I (the most common form and the most severe) and bipolar disorder II. Genes from a total of 1,172 individuals with bipolar disorder I; 516 individuals with bipolar disorder II; and 1,728 controls were analyzed.

Several statistically significant associations were noted between bipolar disorder I and variants in the PDE10A gene. Associations were also found between bipolar disorder II and variants in the DISC1 and GNAS genes.

Davis noted that the location of PDE10A gene expression in the striatum, the part of the brain associated with learning and memory, decision making and motivation, makes it especially interesting as a therapeutic target.


Journal Reference:

  1. M-L McDonald, C MacMullen, D J Liu, S M Leal, R L Davis. Genetic association of cyclic AMP signaling genes with bipolar disorder. Translational Psychiatry, 2012; 2 (10): e169 DOI: 10.1038/tp.2012.92

Giving lithium to those who need it

 Lithium is a 'gold standard' drug for treating bipolar disorder, however not everyone responds in the same way. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders finds that this is true at the levels of gene activation, especially in the activation or repression of genes which alter the level the apoptosis (programmed cell death). Most notably BCL2, known to be important for the therapeutic effects of lithium, did not increase in non-responders. This can be tested in the blood of patients within four weeks of treatment.

A research team from Yale University School of Medicine measured the changing levels of gene activity in the blood of twenty depressed adult subjects with bipolar disorder before treatment, and then fortnightly once treatment with lithium carbonate had begun.

Over the eight weeks of treatment there were definite differences in the levels of gene expression between those who responded to lithium (measured using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale) and those who failed to respond. Dr Robert Beech who led this study explained, "We found 127 genes that had different patterns of activity (turned up or down) and the most affected cellular signalling pathway was that controlled programmed cell death (apoptosis)."

For people who responded to lithium the genes which protect against apoptosis, including Bcl2 and IRS2, were up regulated, while those which promote apoptosis were down regulated, including BAD and BAK1.

The protein coded by BAK1 can open an anion channel in mitochondrial walls which leads to leakage of mitochondrial contents and activation of cell death pathways. Damage similar to this has been seen within the prefrontal cortex of the brain of patients with bipolar disorder. BAD protein is thought to promote BAK1 activity, while Bcl2 binds to BAK1 and prevents its ability to bind to the channel.

Dr Beech continued, "This positive swing in regulation of apoptosis for lithium responders was measurable as early as four weeks after the start of treatment, while in non-responders there was a measureable shift in the opposite direction. It seems then, that increased expression of BCL2 and related genes is necessary for the therapeutic effects of lithium. Understanding these differences in genes expression may lead towards personalized treatment for bipolar disorder in the future."


Journal Reference:

  1. Lori Lowthert, Janine Leffert, Aiping Lin, Sheila Umlauf, Kathleen Maloney, Anjana Muralidharan, Boris Lorberg, Shrikant Mane, Hongyu Zhao, Rajita Sinha, Zubin Bhagwagar, Robert Beech. Increased ratio of anti-apoptotic to pro-apoptotic Bcl2 gene-family members in lithium-responders one month after treatment initiation. Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders, 2012; 2 (1): 15 DOI: 10.1186/2045-5380-2-15

Flying high: Researchers decipher manic gene

 

Individuals with bipolar disorder are on an emotional roller coaster, alternating between depressive and manic episodes. Re­searchers have now discovered, based on patient data and animal models, how the NCAN gene results in the manic symptoms of bipolar disorder. (Credit: © Bastos / Fotolia)

Flying high, or down in the dumps — individuals suffering from bipolar dis­order alternate between depressive and manic episodes. Re­searchers from the University of Bonn and the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim have now discovered, based on patient data and animal models, how the NCAN gene results in the manic symptoms of bipolar disorder.

The results have been published in the current issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry.

Individuals with bipolar disorder are on an emotional roller coaster. During depressive phases, they suffer from depression, diminished drive and often, also from suicidal thoughts. The manic episodes, however, are characterized by restlessness, euphoria, and delusions of grandeur. The genesis of this disease probably has both hereditary components as well as psychosocial environmental factors.

The NCAN gene plays a major part in how manias manifest

"It has been known that the NCAN gene plays an essential part in bipolar disorder," reports Prof. Dr. Markus M. Nöthen, Director of the Institute of Human Genetics at the University of Bonn. "But until now, the functional connection has not been clear." In a large-scale study, researchers led by the University of Bonn and the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim have now shown how the NCAN gene contributes to the genesis of mania. To do so, they evaluated the genetic data and the related descriptions of symptoms from 1218 patients with differing ratios between the manic and depressive components of bipolar disorder.

Comprehensive data from patients and animal models

Using the patients' detailed clinical data, the researchers tested statis­tically which of the symptoms are especially closely related to the NCAN gene. "Here it became obvious that the NCAN gene is very closely and quite specifically correlated with the manic symptoms," says Prof. Dr. Marcella Rietschel from the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mann­heim. According to the data the gene is, however, not responsible for the depressive episodes in bipolar disorder.

Manic mice drank from sugar solution with abandon

A team working with Prof. Dr. Andreas Zimmer, Director of the Institute of Molecular Psychiatry at the University of Bonn, examined the mole­cular causes effected by the NCAN gene. The researchers studied mice in which the gene had been "knocked out." "It was shown that these animals had no depressive component in their behaviors, only manic ones," says Prof. Zimmer. These knockout mice were, e.g., considerably more active than the control group and showed a higher level of risk-taking behavior. In addition, they tended to exhibit increased reward-seeking behavior, which manifested itself by their unrestrained drinking from a sugar solution offered by the researchers.

Lithium therapy also effective against hyperactivity in mice

Finally, the researchers gave the manic knockout mice lithium — a stan­dard therapy for humans. "The lithium dosage completely stopped the animals' hyperactive behavior," reports Prof. Zimmer. So the results also matched for lithium; the responses of humans and mice regarding the NCAN gene were practically identical. It has been known from prior studies that knocking out the NCAN gene results in a developmental disorder in the brain due to the fact that the production of the neurocan protein is stopped. "As a consequence of this molecular defect, the individuals affected apparently develop manic symptoms later," says Prof. Zimmer.

Opportunity for new therapies

Now the scientists want to perform further studies of the molecular connections of this disorder — also with a view towards new therapies. "We were quite surprised to see how closely the findings for mice and the patients correlated," says Prof. Nöthen. "This level of significance is very rare." With a view towards mania, the agreement between the findings opens up the opportunity to do further molecular studies on the mouse model, whose results will very likely also be applicable to humans. "This is a great prerequisite for advancing the development of new drugs for mania therapy," believes Prof. Rietschel.

Making sense out of the biological matrix of bipolar disorder

The more that we understand the brain, the more complex it becomes. The same can be said about the genetics and neurobiology of psychiatric disorders. For "Mendelian" disorders, like Huntington disease, mutation of a single gene predictably produces a single clinical disorder, following relatively simple genetic principals. Compared to Mendelian disorders, understanding bipolar disorder has been extremely challenging. Its biology is not well understood and its genetics are complex.

In a new paper, Dr. Inti Pedroso and colleagues utilize an integrative approach to probe the biology of bipolar disorder. They combined the results of three genome-wide association studies, which examined the association of common gene variants with bipolar disorder throughout the genome, and a study of gene expression patterns in post-mortem brain tissue from people who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The findings were analyzed within the context of how brain proteins relate to each other based on the Human Protein Reference Database protein-protein interaction network.

"None of our research approaches provides us with sufficient information, by itself, to understand the neurobiology of psychiatric disorders. This innovative paper wrestles with this challenge in a creative way that helps us to move forward in thinking about the neurobiology of bipolar disorder," commented Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.

Dr. Pedroso explained, "We combined information about genetic variation from thousands of cases and controls with brain gene expression data and information from protein databases to identify networks of genes and proteins in the brain that are key in the development of bipolar disorder."

The analysis resulted in the ability to define risk gene variants that were deemed functional, by virtue of the association with changes in gene expression levels, and to group these functional gene variants in biologically meaningful pathways.

The results implicated genes involved in several neural signaling pathways, including the Notch and Wnt signaling pathways. These pathways are key processes in neurotransmission and brain development and these findings indicate they are also likely to be involved in causing this severe disorder. The authors noted that three features stand out among these genes: i) they localized to the human postsynaptic density, which is crucial for neuronal function; ii) their mouse knockouts present altered behavioral phenotypes; and iii) some are known targets of the pharmacological treatments for bipolar disorder.

Dr. Gerome Breen, senior author on the study and Senior Lecturer at King's College London Institute of Psychiatry, said, "Our study provides some of the first evidence to show the biochemical and developmental processes involved in causing risk for developing this life-long and costly illness. We have highlighted potential new avenues for new drug treatments and intervention."


Journal Reference:

  1. Inti Pedroso, Anbarasu Lourdusamy, Marcella Rietschel, Markus M. Nöthen, Sven Cichon, Peter McGuffin, Ammar Al-Chalabi, Michael R. Barnes, Gerome Breen. Common Genetic Variants and Gene-Expression Changes Associated with Bipolar Disorder Are Over-Represented in Brain Signaling Pathway Genes. Biological Psychiatry, 2012; 72 (4): 311 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.12.031

Ketamine improved bipolar depression within minutes, study suggests

Bipolar disorder is a serious and debilitating condition where individuals experience severe swings in mood between mania and depression. The episodes of low or elevated mood can last days or months, and the risk of suicide is high.

Antidepressants are commonly prescribed to treat or prevent the depressive episodes, but they are not universally effective. Many patients still continue to experience periods of depression even while being treated, and many patients must try several different types of antidepressants before finding one that works for them. In addition, it may take several weeks of treatment before a patient begins to feel relief from the drug's effects.

For these reasons, better treatments for depression are desperately needed. A new study in Biological Psychiatry this week confirms that scientists may have found one in a drug called ketamine.

A group of researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health, led by Dr. Carlos Zarate, previously found that a single dose of ketamine produced rapid antidepressant effects in depressed patients with bipolar disorder. They have now replicated that finding in an independent group of depressed patients, also with bipolar disorder. Replication is an important component of the scientific method, as it helps ensure that the initial finding wasn't accidental and can be repeated.

In this new study, they administered a single dose of ketamine and a single dose of placebo to a group of patients on two different days, two weeks apart. The patients were then carefully monitored and repeatedly completed ratings to 'score' their depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts.

When the patients received ketamine, their depression symptoms significantly improved within 40 minutes, and remained improved over 3 days. Overall, 79% of the patients improved with ketamine, but 0% reported improvement when they received placebo.

Importantly, and for the first time in a group of patients with bipolar depression, they also found that ketamine significantly reduced suicidal thoughts. These antisuicidal effects also occurred within one hour. Considering that bipolar disorder is one of the most lethal of all psychiatric disorders, these study findings could have a major impact on public health.

"Our finding that a single infusion of ketamine produces rapid antidepressant and antisuicidal effects within one hour and that is fairly sustained is truly exciting," Dr. Zarate commented. "We think that these findings are of true importance given that we only have a few treatments approved for acute bipolar depression, and none of them have this rapid onset of action; they usually take weeks or longer to have comparable antidepressant effects as ketamine does."

Ketamine is an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, which means that it works by blocking the actions of NMDA. Dr. Zarate added, "Importantly, confirmation that blocking the NMDA receptor complex is involved in generating rapid antidepressant and antisuicidal effects offers an avenue for developing the next generation of treatments for depression that are radically different than existing ones."


Journal Reference:

  1. Carlos A. Zarate, Nancy E. Brutsche, Lobna Ibrahim, Jose Franco-Chaves, Nancy Diazgranados, Anibal Cravchik, Jessica Selter, Craig A. Marquardt, Victoria Liberty, David A. Luckenbaugh. Replication of Ketamine's Antidepressant Efficacy in Bipolar Depression: A Randomized Controlled Add-On Trial. Biological Psychiatry, 2012; 71 (11): 939 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.12.010
 

Evidence of familial vulnerability for epilepsy and psychosis

 Although the two disorders may seem dissimilar, epilepsy and psychosis are associated. Individuals with epilepsy are more likely to have schizophrenia, and a family history of epilepsy is a risk factor for psychosis. It is not known whether the converse is true, i.e., whether a family history of psychosis is a risk factor for epilepsy.

Multiple studies using varied investigative techniques have shown that patients with schizophrenia and patients with epilepsy show some similar structural brain and genetic abnormalities, suggesting they may share a common etiology.

To investigate this possibility, researchers conducted a population-based study of parents and their children born in Helsinki, Finland. Using data available in two Finnish national registers, the study included 9,653 families and 23,404 offspring.

Individuals with epilepsy had a 5.5-fold increase in the risk of having a psychotic disorder, a 6.3-fold increase in the risk of having bipolar disorder, and an 8.5-fold increase in the risk of having schizophrenia.

They also found that the association between epilepsy and psychosis clusters within families. Individuals with a parental history of epilepsy had a 2-fold increase in the risk of developing psychosis, compared to individuals without a parental history of epilepsy. Individuals with a parental history of psychosis had a 2.7-fold increase in the risk of having a diagnosis of epilepsy, compared to individuals without a parental history of psychosis.

There have been multiple theories regarding the link between epilepsy and psychosis, but most have been predicated on the idea that epilepsy has toxic effects on the brain. However, combined with prior genetic and neurodevelopmental evidence, these new findings suggest a much more complex association, which likely includes a shared genetic vulnerability.

"Our evidence that epilepsy and psychotic illness may cluster within some families indicates that these disorders may be more closely linked than previously thought. We hope that this epidemiological evidence may contribute to the on-going efforts to disentangle the complex pathways that lead to these serious illnesses," said Dr. Mary Clarke, first author of the study and lecturer at Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry, commented: "We have long known that particular types of epilepsy were associated with psychosis. However, the finding that a parental history of psychosis is associated with an increased risk of epilepsy in the offspring strengthens the mechanistic link between the two conditions."


Journal Reference:

  1. Mary C. Clarke, Antti Tanskanen, Matti O. Huttunen, Maurice Clancy, David R. Cotter, Mary Cannon. Evidence for Shared Susceptibility to Epilepsy and Psychosis: A Population-Based Family Study. Biological Psychiatry, 2012; 71 (9): 836 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.01.011
 

Research explores the positives of bipolar disorder

— The problems of living with bipolar have been well documented, but a new study by Lancaster University has captured the views of those who also report highly-valued, positive experiences of living with the condition.

Researchers at Lancaster's Spectrum Centre, which is dedicated to the study of bipolar disorder, interviewed and recorded their views of ten people with a bipolar diagnosis, aged between 24 and 57. Participants in the study reported a number of perceived benefits to the condition ranging from to sharper senses to increased productivity.

The research was designed to explore growing evidence that some people with bipolar value their experiences and in some cases would prefer not to be without the condition.

Participants described a wide range of experiences and internal states that they believed they felt to a far greater intensity than those without the condition. These included increased perceptual sensitivity, creativity, focus and clarity of thought.

Some held (or had previously held) high functioning professional jobs or had been studying for higher level qualifications. They described in detail how they experienced times when tasks that are usually quite difficult or time consuming, would feel incredibly easy and the ability to achieve at a high level during these times was clearly immensely rewarding.

Others expressed the view that they felt 'lucky' or even 'blessed' to have the condition.

Alan, (not his real name) one of the interviewees, said: "It's almost as if it opens up something in the brain that isn't otherwise there, and I see colour much more vividly than I used to……So I think that my access to music and art are something for which I'm grateful to bipolar for enhancing. It's almost as if it's a magnifying glass that sits between that and myself."

Researchers even found some people with bipolar reaped positive experiences from their lows such as greater empathy with the suffering of others.

Dr Fiona Lobban, who led the study, said: "Bipolar Disorder is generally seen as a severe and enduring mental illness with serious negative consequences for the people with this diagnosis and their friends and family. For some people this is very much the case. Research shows that long term unemployment rates are high, relationships are marred by high levels of burden on family and friends and quality of life is often poor. High rates of drug and alcohol misuse are reported for people with this diagnosis and suicide rates are twenty times that of the general population.

"However, despite all these factors researchers and clinicians are aware that that some aspects of bipolar experiences are also highly valued by some people. We wanted to find out what these positive experiences were.

"People were very keen to take part in this study and express views which some felt had to be hidden from the medical profession.

"It is really important that we learn more about the positives of bipolar as focusing only on negative aspects paints a very biased picture that perpetuates the view of bipolar as a wholly negative experience. If we fail to explore the positives of bipolar we also fail to understand the ambivalence of some people towards treatment."

Rita Long from Stockport was not part of the study but can identify with its findings. She was 40 when she was diagnosed with the condition but from her school days she was aware that she experienced the world differently to her twin sister.

"We were making Christmas cakes at school and I was so interested and excited by it and my sister says she remembers watching me and thinking, 'I really wish I could get that excited about making a Christmas cake'. I noticed things, experienced them with a different level of intensity, we'd be on a walk and I'd be saying look at the colour of this, and my sister would be saying, 'It's just a berry'. Socially too, people with bipolar can be quite quick witted, humorous. Until much later in life I just presumed those things were part of my personality.

"I don't want to underestimate how difficult the bad times can be that some people go through with bipolar but at the same time I feel very passionate about the positives. If we are going to move on as a society — in academia, in business, in entertainment — we need people who will push boundaries. People with bipolar can do that."


Journal Reference:

  1. Fiona Lobban, Katherine Taylor, Craig Murray, Steven Jones. Bipolar Disorder is a two-edged sword: a qualitative study to understand the positive edge. Journal of Affective Disorders, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.03.001
 

PCE in drinking water linked to an increased risk of mental illness, study suggests

The solvent tetrachloroethylene (PCE) widely used in industry and to dry clean clothes is a neurotoxin known to cause mood changes, anxiety, and depression in people who work with it. To date the long-term effect of this chemical on children exposed to PCE has been less clear, although there is some evidence that children of people who work in the dry cleaning industry have an increased risk of schizophrenia.

New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Environmental Health found that exposure to PCE as a child was associated with an increased risk of bipolar disorder and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

From 1968, until the early 1980s, water companies in Massachusetts installed vinyl-lined (VL/AC) water pipes that were subsequently found to be leaching PCE into the drinking water supply. Researchers from Boston University followed the incidence of mental illness amongst adults from Cape Cod, born between 1969 and 1983, who were consequently exposed to PCE both before birth and during early childhood.

While there was no increase seen in the incidence of depression, regardless of PCE exposure, people with prenatal and early childhood exposure to PCE had almost twice the risk of bipolar disorder, compared to an unexposed group, and their risk of PTSD was raised by 50%.

Dr Ann Aschengrau from Boston University School of Public Health warned, "It is impossible to calculate the exact amount of PCE these people were exposed to — levels of PCE were recorded as high as 1,550 times the currently recommended safe limit. While the water companies flushed the pipes to address this problem, people are still being exposed to PCE in the dry cleaning and textile industries, and from consumer products, and so the potential for an increased risk of illness remains real."


Journal Reference:

  1. Ann Aschengrau, Janice M Weinberg, Patricia A Janulewicz, Megan E Romano, Lisa G Gallagher, Michael R Winter, Brett R Martin, Veronica M Vieira, Thomas F Webster, Roberta F White, David M Ozonoff. Occurrence of mental illness following prenatal and early childhood exposure to tetrachloroethylene (PCE)-contaminated drinking water: a retrospective cohort study. Environmental Health, 2012; 11 (1): 2 DOI: 10.1186/1476-069X-11-2