Humans bonking with now-extinct species could explain depression, experts say

Depression could be the result of a romance your ancestors had 60,000 years ago, according to a new study.

Humans and a now-extinct sub-species, the Denisovans, met in Asia with researchers now reckoning that a gene variant from that cross-breeding could be the key to understanding our moods. People who have that variety have lower levels of zinc in their bodies.

Zinc levels are increasingly thought to be associated with happiness levels, with boffins now reckoning that a gene from the Denisovans, a sister species of the Neanderthals, has “implications for the transport of zinc within a cell.”

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SLC30A9 is the most widespread gene from the Denisovans and is thought to have spread from Asia into European and Native American populations, according toMailOnline.

Recent scientific advances in genome sequencing have allowed scientists to trace the DNA of humans today to the ancestors who came before, shedding light on the ways various parts of our wider family tree have overlapped and interlinked.

IBE principal investigator and co-leader of the study, Elena Bosch, and her team found an adaptive variant in the current human population that is extremely similar to the Denisovans.

She said: “We discovered that this mutation surely had implications for the transport of zinc within the cell."

Researchers found that the variable causes a new cellular zinc balance which changes the metabolism. This helped Denisovans manage cold temperatures but the transport of zinc also causes excitement of the nervous system and has an impact on mental health.

The presence of this gene transporter is associated with being vulnerable to being impacted by psychiatric diseases including anorexia nervosa, hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia.

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