The dichotomy of schizophrenia and affective disorders in extended pedigrees

W Maier, D Lichtermann, P Franke, Reinhard Heun, P Falkai, M Rietschel

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    The paper reports the first controlled family study investigating not only 1st but also 2nd and 3rd degree relatives of patients with schizophrenia by direct diagnostic interviews. Regardless of their degree of relationship, all biological relatives of the patients were found to be at an elevated risk of schizophrenia (5.0% in 1st, 3.1% in 2nd, 1.5% in 3rd degree relatives compared to 0.8% among controls). Schizoaffective and affective disorders have also been found to be more common in the three groups of relatives but without a monotone decline of prevalence rates across the groups. Other psychiatric disorders were not found to be at an elevated risk in relatives of patients compared to controls. Thus, our findings support the hypothesis that psychotic, as well as affective disorders, aggregate in families of individuals with schizophrenia.However, in our study, the risk of schizophrenia and the risk of affective disorders correlated. Particularly, the magnitude of the risk of schizophrenia among relatives of probands with schizophrenia varied with the occurrence of affective disorders in relatives. In relatives, the risk of schizophrenia was maximal in absence of a family history of affective disorder. This constellation holds true even if only families of index cases without any affective syndrome during lifetime are considered.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)259-266
    Number of pages8
    JournalSchizophrenia Research
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2002


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