Genetics of Recurrent Early-Onset Depression (GenRED): Design and preliminary clinical characteristics of a repository sample for genetic linkage studies

Douglas F. Levinson, George S. Zubenko, Raymond R. Crowe, Raymond J. DePaulo, William S. Scheftner, Myrna M. Weissman, Peter Holmans, Wendy N. Zubenko, Sandra Boutelle, Kathleen Murphy-Eberenz, Dean MacKinnon, Melvin G. McInnis, Diana H. Marta, Philip Adams, Stephanie Sassoon, James A. Knowles, Jo Thomas, Jennifer Chellis

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74 Scopus citations


This is an initial report on a six-site collaborative project, Genetics of Recurrent Early-Onset Depression (GenRED). This is a study of a large sample of families with recurrent major depressive disorder (DSM-IV) beginning by the age 30 in probands or 40 in relatives. Evidence suggests that early onset and recurrence of depressive episodes predict substantially increased risk of depression in first-degree relatives compared with the general population, suggesting that susceptibility genes might be mapped with this phenotype. The projected sample of 800-1,000 affected sibling pairs (ASPs) and other relatives will be studied using genome scan methods. Biological materials and blinded clinical data will be made available through the NIMH cell repository program. The sample should have good-to-excellent power to detect a locus associated with a 24% or greater population-wide increase in risk to siblings. We describe 838 affected individuals from the first 305 families containing 434 independent ASPs, or 613 ASPs counting all possible pairs. The mean age at the onset was 18.5 years, with a mean of 7.3 episodes and longest episode of 655 days. Almost all subjects had experienced at least 4 weeks of depression with five or more additional symptom criteria. Frequencies of symptoms and psychiatric and medical comorbid are provided. Substance use was more common in males, and panic disorder in females. Within pairs of affected siblings, correlations were significant for age at onset, substance abuse/dependence, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and nicotine initiation and persistence. We replicated previously reported associations among comorbid panic disorder and social phobia, chronicity of depression and suicidal behavior. This suggests comparability of our cases to those in earlier large family studies. This dataset should prove useful for genetic studies of a highly familial form of major depressive disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-130
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics - Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Volume119 B
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 15 2003


  • Depressive disorders
  • Epidemiology
  • Genetic linkage
  • Genetics
  • Major depressive disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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