• bipolar disorder;
  • genetics;
  • linkage disequilibrium;
  • manic depression;
  • population isolates

Objectives: Population isolates offer several advantages for those hoping to identify predisposition genes for bipolar disorder (BP). In this review article, the rationale for performing gene mapping studies in this type of population and the results of genetic mapping studies performed to date in population isolates are presented. Methods: This article begins with a brief review of the concepts involved in mapping genes for BP. The concept of populations that show some degree of historical isolation and their special utility for certain types of gene mapping is presented. Methods of statistical analysis particularly relevant for gene mapping of complex diseases like BP are presented. Finally, several BP gene studies conducted to date in several population isolates are reviewed. Results: Genetic mapping studies of BP have occurred thus far in several isolates or sub-isolates, including the Amish population, Costa Ricans, Finnish, and Canadians (in Quebec), and significant linkage scores have been identified in the latter three isolates. Conclusions: Possible greater homogeneity and greater consistency of diagnosis are factors that have been cited in several studies of BP done in isolates to date. Another special advantage of working in certain types of population isolate is their appropriateness for using certain types of association or linkage disequilibrium-based approaches at both the genome screening and fine mapping stages. These tests include mapping by linkage disequilibrium analyses, an approach that allows mapping to occur at the population, rather than the pedigree, level.