White matter integrity as an intermediate phenotype: Exploratory genome-wide association analysis in individuals at high risk of bipolar disorder
ABSTRACT White matter integrity, as measured using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), is reduced in individuals with bipolar disorder (BD), their unaffected relatives and carriers of specific risk-alleles. Fractional anisotropy (FA), an index of white matter integrity, is highly heritable but the genetic architecture of this trait has received little investigation. In this study we performed a genome-wide association study with FA as quantitative phenotype, in unaffected relatives of patients with BD (N=70) and a matched control group (N=80). Amongst our top results were SNPs located in genes involved in cell adhesion, white matter development and neuronal plasticity. Pathway analysis of the top associated polymorphisms and genes confirmed the enrichment of processes relevant to BD and white matter development, including axon guidance, ErbB-signalling neurotrophin signalling, phosphatidylinositol signalling, and cell adhesion. The majority of genes implicated in these pathways were differentially associated with FA in individuals at high familial risk, suggesting interactions with genetic background or environmental factors secondary to familial risk for BD. Although the present findings require independent replication, the results encourage the use of global FA as a quantitative phenotype in future large-scale studies which may help to identify the biological processes underlying reduced FA in BD and other psychiatric disorders.
SourceAvailable from: Sherri G Liang[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Studies of bipolar disorder (BD) suggest a genetic basis of the illness that alters brain function and morphology. In recent years, a number of genetic variants associated with BD have been identified. However, little is known about the associated genes, or brain circuits that rely upon their function. Using an anatomically comprehensive survey of the human transcriptome (The Allen Brain Atlas), we mapped the expression of 58 genes with suspected involvement in BD based upon their relationship to SNPs identified in genome wide association studies (GWAS). We then conducted a meta-analysis of structural MRI studies to identify brain regions that are abnormal in BD. Of 58 BD associated genes, 22 had anatomically distinct expression patterns that could be categorized into one of three clusters (C1-C3). Brain regions with the highest and lowest expression of these genes did not overlap strongly with anatomical sites identified as abnormal by structural MRI except in the parahippocampal gyrus, the inferior/superior temporal gyrus and the cerebellar vermis, regions where overlap was significant. Using the 22 genes in C1-C3 as reference points, additional genes with correlated expression patterns were identified and organized into sets based on similarity. Further analysis revealed that five of these gene sets were significantly associated with BD, suggesting that anatomical expression profile is correlated with genetic susceptibility to BD, particularly for genes in C2. Our data suggest that expression profiles of BD-associated genes do not explain the majority of structural abnormalities observed in BD, but may be useful in identifying new candidate genes. Our results highlight the complex neuroanatomical basis of BD, and reinforce illness models that emphasize impaired brain connectivity.PLoS ONE 06/2014; 9(6):e100204. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0100204 · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Development of novel treatments and diagnostic tools for psychiatric illness has been hindered by the absence of cellular models of disease. With the advent of cellular reprogramming, it may be possible to recapitulate the disease biology of psychiatric disorders using patient skin cells transdifferentiated to neurons. However, efficiently identifying and characterizing relevant neuronal phenotypes in the absence of well-defined pathophysiology remains a challenge. In this study, we collected fibroblast samples from patients with bipolar 1 disorder, characterized by their lithium response (n=12), and healthy control subjects (n=6). We identified a cellular phenotype in reprogrammed neurons using a label-free imaging assay based on a nanostructured photonic crystal biosensor and found that an optical measure of cell adhesion was associated with clinical response to lithium treatment. This cellular phenotype may represent a useful biomarker to evaluate drug response and screen for novel therapeutics.08/2014; 4:e428. DOI:10.1038/tp.2014.72
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Identifying genes that contribute to white matter microstructure should provide insights into the neurobiological processes that regulate white matter development, plasticity and pathology. We detected five significant SNPs using genome-wide association analysis on a global measure of fractional anisotropy in 776 individuals from large extended pedigrees. Genetic correlations and genome-wide association results indicated that the genetic signal was largely homogeneous across white matter regions. Using RNA transcripts derived from lymphocytes in the same individuals, we identified two genes (GNA13 and CCDC91) that are likely to be cis-regulated by top SNPs, and whose expression levels were also genetically correlated with fractional anisotropy. A transcript of HTR7 was phenotypically associated with FA, and was associated with an intronic genome-wide significant SNP. These results encourage further research in the mechanisms by which GNA13, HTR7 and CCDC91 influence brain structure, and emphasize a role for g-protein signaling in the development and maintenance of white matter microstructure in health and disease.NeuroImage 04/2014; 97. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.04.021 · 6.13 Impact Factor