The consortium on the genetics of endophenotypes in schizophrenia: model recruitment, assessment, and endophenotyping methods for a multisite collaboration

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Schizophrenia Bulletin (Impact Factor: 8.45). 02/2007; 33(1):33-48. DOI: 10.1093/schbul/sbl044
Source: PubMed


The Consortium on the Genetics of Schizophrenia (COGS) is an ongoing, National Institute of Mental Health-funded, 7-site collaboration investigating the occurrence and genetic architecture of quantitative endophenotypes related to schizophrenia. The purpose of this article is to provide a description of the COGS structure and methods, including participant recruitment and assessment.
The hypothesis-driven recruitment strategy ascertains families that include a proband with a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition diagnosis of schizophrenia, and at least one unaffected full sibling available for genotyping and endophenotyping, along with parents available for genotyping and (optional depending on age) endophenotyping. The family structure is selected to provide contrast in quantitative endophenotypic traits and thus to maximize the power of the planned genetic analyses. Probands are recruited from many sources including clinician referrals, local National Alliance for the Mentally Ill chapters, and advertising via the media. All participants undergo a standardized protocol that includes clinical characterization, a blood draw for genotyping, and endophenotype assessments (P50 suppression, prepulse inhibition, antisaccade performance, continuous performance tasks, letter-number span, verbal memory, and a computerized neurocognitive battery). Investigators participate in weekly teleconferences to coordinate and evaluate recruitment, clinical assessment, endophenotyping, and continuous quality control of data gathering and analyses. Data integrity is maintained through use of a highly quality-assured, centralized web-based database.
As of February 2006, 355 families have been enrolled and 688 participants have been endophenotyped, including schizophrenia probands (n = 154, M:F = 110:44), first-degree biological relatives (n = 343, M:F = 151:192), and community comparison subjects (n = 191, M:F = 81:110).
Successful multisite genetics collaborations must institute standardized methodological criteria for assessment and recruitment that are clearly defined, well communicated, and uniformly applied. In parallel, studies utilizing endophenotypes require strict adherence to criteria for cross-site data acquisition, equipment calibration and testing and software equivalence, and continuous quality assurance for many measures obtained across sites. This report describes methods and presents the structure of the COGS as a model of multisite endophenotype genetic studies. It also provides demographic information after the first 2 years of data collection on a sample for whom the behavioral data and genetics of endophenotype performance will be fully characterized in future articles. Some issues discussed in the reviews that follow reflect the challenges of evaluating endophenotypes in studies of the genetic architecture of endophenotypes in schizophrenia.

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    • "Subjects were participants in the COGS-I, a multi-site family-based study of the genetics of neuro-cognitive and neurophysiological endophenotypes associated with schizophrenia. Full details of the COGS-I recruitment and assessment procedures are reported elsewhere (Calkins et al., 2007) and included standardized clinical assessment interviews of all subjects. All participants who are endophenotyped were between the ages of 18–65 and able to understand and provide informed consent. "
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    ABSTRACT: We evaluated the discrepancy of endophenotypic performance between probands with schizophrenia and unaffected siblings by paternal age at proband birth, a possible marker for de novo mutations. Pairs of schizophrenia probands and unaffected siblings (N=220 pairs) were evaluated on 11 neuropsychological or neurophysiological endophenotypes previously identified as heritable. For each endophenotype, the sibling-minus-proband differences were transformed to standardized scores. Then for each pair, the average discrepancy was calculated from its standardized scores. We tested the hypothesis that the discrepancy is associated with paternal age, controlling for the number of endophenotypes shared between proband and his or her sibling, and proband age, which were both associated with paternal age. The non-significant association between the discrepancy and paternal age was in the opposite direction from the hypothesis. Of the 11 endophenotypes only sensori-motor dexterity was significant, but in the opposite direction. Eight other endophenotypes were also in the opposite direction, but not significant. The results did not support the hypothesized association of increased differences between sibling/proband pairs with greater paternal age. A possible explanation is that the identification of heritable endophenotypes was based on samples for which schizophrenia was attributable to inherited rather than de novo/non-inherited causes.
    Psychiatry Research 05/2014; 219(1). DOI:10.1016/j.psychres.2014.05.035 · 2.47 Impact Factor
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    • "Project specific inclusion/exclusion criteria and assessment methods are detailed in previously published articles (Aliyu et al., 2007; Calkins et al., 2007; Calkins et al., 2010; R.E. Gur, Calkins, et al., 2007; R.E. Gur, Nimgaonkar, et al., 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: Finger-tapping has been widely studied using behavioral and neuroimaging paradigms. Evidence supports the use of finger-tapping as an endophenotype in schizophrenia, but its relationship with motor procedural learning remains unexplored. To our knowledge, this study presents the first use of index finger-tapping to study procedural learning in individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder (SCZ/SZA) as compared to healthy controls. A computerized index finger-tapping test was administered to 1169 SCZ/SZA patients (62% male, 88% right-handed), and 689 healthy controls (40% male, 93% right-handed). Number of taps per trial and learning slopes across trials for the dominant and non-dominant hands were examined for motor speed and procedural learning, respectively. Both healthy controls and SCZ/SZA patients demonstrated procedural learning for their dominant hand but not for their non-dominant hand. In addition, patients showed a greater capacity for procedural learning even though they demonstrated more variability in procedural learning compared to healthy controls. Left-handers of both groups performed better than right-handers and had less variability in mean number of taps between non-dominant and dominant hands. Males also had less variability in mean tap count between dominant and non-dominant hands than females. As expected, patients had a lower mean number of taps than healthy controls, males outperformed females and dominant-hand trials had more mean taps than non-dominant hand trials in both groups. The index finger-tapping test can measure both motor speed and procedural learning, and motor procedural learning may be intact in SCZ/SZA patients.
    Schizophrenia Research 02/2012; 137(1-3):234-40. DOI:10.1016/j.schres.2012.01.018 · 3.92 Impact Factor
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    • "BEFDs were made not only for schizophrenia and related disorders, but also for substance abuse/dependence disorders. The BEFD method is widely used in schizophrenia studies (Calkins et al., 2007; Shi et al., 2009; Suarez et al., 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: Suicide and attempted suicide are common in individuals with schizophrenia, and evidence exists for a link between substance use disorders and suicidality in this disorder. However, alcohol has not been consistently implicated. We examined the relationship between substance use disorders and suicide attempts in schizophrenia. We recruited a schizophrenia sample in Australia (n = 821) for genetic analyses. We analysed demographic and clinical variables, including substance use disorders, and their relationship to suicide attempts using generalised equation modelling. A significant association was identified between lifetime alcohol abuse/dependence and suicide attempts (OR = 1.66; 95% CI, 1.23 to 2.24; p = 0.001) after adjustment for potential confounders, but not between cannabis abuse/dependence and suicide attempts, nor between other illicit drug abuse/dependence and suicide attempts. Polysubstance abuse/dependence was also not implicated. These results suggest that the presence of alcohol abuse/dependence may be a risk factor for suicide attempts in individuals with schizophrenia, independent of comorbid substance abuse/dependence.
    Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 02/2012; 46(2):132-40. DOI:10.1177/0004867411433211 · 3.41 Impact Factor
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