WEEKLY UPDATE: January 3, 2020
STUDY TITLE: Novel genome-wide associations for anhedonia, genetic correlation with psychiatric disorders, and polygenic association with brain structure
SUMMARY: Identification of 11 novel genomic regions associated with anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure.
OVERVIEW: Anhedonia refers to a condition characterized by an inability to feel pleasure from activities that are considered enjoyable. It’s a common symptom of depression and other psychiatric disorders and reduces the quality of life. The genetic underpinnings of anhedonia are not well understood. This genome-wide study of over 375,000 individuals of European ancestry discovered 11 genomic regions that are associated with feelings of anhedonia (5 variants with defined IDs are shown in the table below). Together, these variants may explain over 5% of the heritability of anhedonia. The discovered variants were also found to be associated with smaller volumes of brain regions linked to reward and pleasure processing as well as other structural changes in the brain.
DID YOU KNOW? Because drugs that are commonly used to treat depression often fail to promote feelings of pleasure, researchers are currently exploring talk therapy as a treatment for anhedonia. Talk therapy can help kickstart a positive feedback loop in the brain that may enable patients to feel pleasure again. [SOURCE]