Is YU Ace a promising phone

Alliance between heart disease and depression: Searching for clues to the ACE gene

The gene for the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE gene), which influences the development of coronary heart disease, obviously plays a key role. Scientists from the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich came to this conclusion in a project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the National Genome Research Network (NGFN).


In recent years there has been increasing evidence that genetic variants are involved in the development of depression. The ACE gene has proven to be a very promising starting point. It was already known that fathers in the ACE gene increase the risk of coronary heart disease. These diseases can in turn promote severe depression, known as major depression. The new results now show that genetic variants in the ACE gene also have a direct influence on the development of depression. ACE occurs in the entire organism - including the central nervous system. Here it is found in nerve cells containing substance P, in the basal ganglia and, to a lesser extent, in the hypothalamus and other brain regions. As was shown in in vitro tests on rodents, ACE not only affects blood pressure, but also the release of pituitary hormones such as corticotropin. Interestingly, most patients with severe depression show an increased concentration of corticotropin in the blood plasma.

Close associations
A research group led by Dr. Thomas Baghai from the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich has now examined the role of variants of the ACE gene in the development of severe depression in more detail. To this end, Baghai and his team examined the genetic relationship between 35 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) - in which one nucleotide in the DNA molecule is changed - and the likelihood of severe depression. Baghai examined a total of 843 depressed patients and compared their data with those of 1,479 healthy control persons. The associations found were confirmed in a further random sample.

In the first screening, two SNPs on the ACE gene were significantly associated with severe depression. For one of the two SNPs, Baghai and his team were able to prove that this also has functional consequences: It increases the activity of ACE. The data from the Munich scientists strongly suggest that variants of the ACE gene promote the development of severe depression. "This SNP could represent a pathophysiological link between depression and cardiovascular diseases," said Baghai. That would explain the ominous alliance between the sufferings of the soul and those of the heart.

Contact Person:
Dr. Thomas Baghai
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich
Nussbaumstrasse 7
80336 Munich
Tel .: 089 5160-5731
Fax: 089 5160-5738
Email: [email protected]