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A study identifies forty genes related to aggressive behaviour

By 9 de July de 2018No Comments
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The experts Bru Cormand and Noèlia Fernàndez Castillo, from the Faculty of Biology and the Institute of Biomedicine of the UB (Foto: UB).

A study identifies forty genes related to aggressive behaviour

An international study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry has identified forty genes related to aggressive behaviour in humans and mice. Participants in the study, which could contribute to shape future pharmacological targets, are the researchers Bru Cormand and Noèlia Fernàndez Castillo, from the Faculty of Biology at the University of Barcelona and the Institute of Biomedicine of the UB (IBUB), present at the Barcelona Science Park.


The origins of the violent behaviour are multifactorial and respond to the interaction of several factors ─biological, cultural, social, etc.─ which can modify the expression of the human behaviour. The new study, led by the expert Stephen V. Faraone, from the State University of New York (United States), provides a deeper and integrative view on the genetic basis of aggressiveness and the common functional ways that alter the brain circuit of violent behaviour in different species. 

“Aggressive behaviour is a present feature over the biological evolution since it has some benefits for the survival of species (accessing resources, breeding, etc.). In these lines, our study focuses on the biological basis of aggressiveness, i.e. those endogenous factors that tend to show certain antisocial behaviours” points out the lecturer Bru Cormand, head of the Research Group on Neurogenetics at the Faculty of Biology of the UB, member of the Research Institute Sant Joan de Déu (IRSJD) and the Rare Diseases Networking Biomedical Research Centre (CIBERER).

“However –says Cormand- aggressiveness has a significant environmental element, which was not considered in this scientific study. Therefore, it would be interesting to combine genetic and environmental data from the same individuals to consider the interactions that can occur between the same risk factors that influence this kind of behaviour”.

Humans and mice share a common genetic base regarding violent behaviour, authors note. In particular, they identified forty genes in humans and mice that can lead to a risk of aggressive behaviours “and that take part in biological processes that are related to the development and function of the central nervous system, communication within cells and cellular function maintenance”, adds researcher Fernàndez Castillo (IBUB-CIBERER-IRSJD). “Some gens are likely to function as important nodes of the genic networks prone to a violent behaviour, and those would be probably related to other genes which play a minor role”, adds the researcher. 


►Reference article: 

Yanli Zhang-James, Noèlia Fernàndez-Castillo, Jonathan L Hess, Karim Malki, Stephen J Glatt, Bru Cormand and Stephen V Faraone. “An integrated analysis of genes and functional pathways for aggression in human and rodent models“. Molecular Psychiatry (2018) DOI: 10.1038/s41380-018-0068-7 

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