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Haptoglobin phenotypes and gene frequencies in unipolar major depression
Am J Psychiatry 1994;151:112-116.
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Studies from the authors' laboratory have shown that major depression is accompanied by significantly increased plasma concentrations of positive acute-phase proteins such as haptoglobin. Haptoglobin is characterized by a molecular variation with three known phenotypes (Hp 1-1, Hp 2-1, and Hp 2-2). This study investigated haptoglobin plasma levels and phenotype and gene frequencies in unipolar major depression. METHOD: Haptoglobin plasma levels of 22 healthy volunteers, 32 patients with minor depression, and 72 patients with major depression were determined by means of a laser nephelometric method. Haptoglobin phenotyping of these 126 subjects and 200 healthy blood donors was also carried out. RESULTS: The patients with major depression exhibited significantly higher haptoglobin plasma levels than the healthy comparison subjects and the patients with minor depression. Subjects with the haptoglobin phenotype Hp 2-2 had significantly lower haptoglobin levels than the phenotype Hp 1-1 and Hp 2-1 carriers. The frequencies of haptoglobin phenotypes Hp 2-1 (61.1%) and Hp 2-2 (20.8%) in the patients with major depression were significantly higher and lower, respectively, than the frequencies in the normal population (i.e., the blood donors: 48.0% and 37.0%, respectively). The frequency of the Hp-1 gene was significantly greater in the patients with major depression (48.6%) than in the normal population (39.0%). CONCLUSIONS: Major depression is characterized by a hyperhaptoglobinemia that is largely independent of haptoglobin phenotypes. This altered distribution of haptoglobin phenotypes and genes suggests that genetic variation on chromosome 16 may be associated with that illness.

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