The Role of SNP Research in Identifying Biological Mechanisms Underlying Generalized Anxiety Disorder


  • Katherine Weltzien University Honors Program at University of California, Davis


SNPs, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Genome Wide Association Studies


Psychiatric medications can be an effective treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), a condition that negatively impacts hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. However, approximately 50% of patients with GAD do not respond to current first-line medications and many more experience significant side effects, highlighting the need for additional treatments. As GAD is thought to be moderately heritable, Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) linked to GAD are a useful starting point for understanding the biological underpinnings of GAD. In this paper, I review evidence for the heritability of GAD, discuss the current body of research on the relationship between various SNPs and GAD risk, and explore the mechanisms through which specific SNPs could contribute to GAD risk, using a variant at the SATB1-AS1 gene as an example. This analysis illustrates the utility of SNP research in identifying biological systems involved in vulnerability to GAD, which could inform the development of new psychiatric medications.