[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The predominant model for regulation of gene expression through DNA methylation is an inverse association in which increased methylation results in decreased gene expression levels. However, recent studies suggest that the relationship between genetic variation, DNA methylation and expression is more complex. RESULTS: Systems genetic approaches for examining relationships between gene expression and methylation array data were used to find both negative and positive associations between these levels. A weighted correlation network analysis reveals that i) both transcriptome and methylome are organized in modules, ii) co-expression modules are generally not preserved in the methylation data and vice-versa, and iii) highly significant correlations exist between co-expression and co-methylation modules, suggesting the existence of factors that affect expression and methylation of different modules (i.e., trans effects at the level of modules). We observed that methylation probes associated with expression in cis were more likely to be located outside CpG islands, whereas specificity for CpG island shores was present when methylation, associated with expression, was under local genetic control. A structural equation model based analysis found strong support in particular for a traditional causal model in which gene expression is regulated by genetic variation via DNA methylation instead of gene expression affecting DNA methylation levels. CONCLUSIONS: Our results provide new insights into the complex mechanisms between genetic markers, epigenetic mechanisms and gene expression. We find strong support for the classical model of genetic variants regulating methylation, which in turn regulates gene expression. Moreover we show that, although the methylation and expression modules differ, they are highly correlated.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: PURPOSE: Both increased as well as decreased cancer mortality among psychiatric patients has been reported, but competing death causes were not included in the analyses. This study aims to investigate whether observed cancer mortality in patients with psychiatric disorders might be biased by competing death causes. METHOD: In this retrospective cohort study on data from the Psychiatric Case Register Middle Netherlands linked to the death register of Statistics Netherlands, the risk of cancer death among patients with schizophrenia (N = 4,590), bipolar disorder (N = 2,077), depression (N = 15,130) and their matched controls (N = 87,405) was analyzed using a competing risk model. RESULTS: Compared to controls, higher hazards of cancer death were found in patients with schizophrenia (HR = 1.61, 95 % CI 1.26-2.06), bipolar disorder (HR = 1.20, 95 % CI 0.81-1.79) and depression (HR = 1.26, 95 % CI 1.10-1.44). However, the HRs of death due to suicide and other death causes were more elevated. Consequently, among those who died, the 12-year cumulative risk of cancer death was significantly lower. CONCLUSIONS: Our analysis shows that, compared to the general population, psychiatric patients are at higher risk of dying from cancer, provided that they survive the much more elevated risks of suicide and other death causes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The default-mode network (DMN) of the brain shows highly coherent intrinsic activity in healthy subjects and is implicated in self-referential processing important for social cognitive functioning. Schizophrenia patients show abnormal resting-state connectivity within the DMN and this aberrant connectivity is thought to contribute to difficulties in self-referential and introspective processing. Subjects at increased genetic risk of developing schizophrenia, including unaffected siblings of patients, also exhibit brain abnormalities and impaired social cognitive processing. However, it is unclear whether resting-state connectivity within the DMN is abnormal in these subjects. Here, we investigate resting-state DMN connectivity in siblings and whether this is related to the functioning of the network during self-referential processing. Brain activity was measured using functional MRI in 25 unaffected siblings of patients with schizophrenia and 25 healthy controls during an 8-minute resting-state period and during a self-referential processing task in which the subjects had to indicate whether a trait adjective (e.g. "lazy") described their personality (self-referential condition) or whether the trait was socially desirable (non-referential condition). Compared with controls, siblings showed exaggerated connectivity during resting-state between the midline areas of the DMN. Moreover, they failed to adequately modulate connectivity between these areas during self-referential processing. No abnormalities in activation during self-referential processing were observed. These findings suggest that subjects at increased genetic risk of developing schizophrenia exhibit abnormal intrinsic connectivity within the midline DMN and that this is associated with aberrant interactions between these regions during self-referential processing.
Schizophrenia Research 10/2012; · 4.59 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stopping an action requires suppression of the primary motor cortex (M1). Inhibitory control over M1 relies on a network including the right inferior frontal cortex (rIFC) and the supplementary motor complex (SMC), but how these regions interact to exert inhibitory control over M1 is unknown. Specifically, the relative position of the rIFC and SMC with respect to each other, the routes by which these regions control M1, and the causal involvement of these regions in proactive and reactive inhibition remain unclear. We used off-line repetitive TMS to perturb neural activity in the rIFC and SMC followed by fMRI to examine effects on activation in the networks involved in proactive and reactive inhibition, as assessed with a modified stop-signal task. We found repetitive TMS effects on reactive inhibition only. rIFC and SMC stimulation shortened the stop-signal RT and a shorter stop-signal RT was associated with increased M1 deactivation. Furthermore, rIFC and SMC stimulation increased right striatal activation, implicating frontostriatal pathways in reactive inhibition. Finally, rIFC stimulation altered SMC activation, but SMC stimulation did not alter rIFC activation, indicating that rIFC lies upstream from SMC. These findings extend our knowledge about the functional organization of inhibitory control, an important component of executive functioning, showing that rIFC exerts reactive control over M1 via SMC and right striatum.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 10/2012; · 4.49 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although structural brain alterations in schizophrenia have been demonstrated extensively, their quantitative distribution has not been studied over the last 14 years despite advances in neuroimaging. Moreover, a volumetric meta-analysis has not been conducted in antipsychotic-naive patients. Therefore, meta-analysis on cross-sectional volumetric brain alterations in both medicated and antipsychotic-naive patients was conducted. Three hundred seventeen studies published from September 1, 1998 to January 1, 2012 comprising over 9000 patients were selected for meta-analysis, including 33 studies in antipsychotic-naive patients. In addition to effect sizes, potential modifying factors such as duration of illness, sex composition, current antipsychotic dose, and intelligence quotient matching status of participants were extracted where available. In the sample of medicated schizophrenia patients (n = 8327), intracranial and total brain volume was significantly decreased by 2.0% (effect size d = -0.17) and 2.6% (d = -0.30), respectively. Largest effect sizes were observed for gray matter structures, with effect sizes ranging from -0.22 to -0.58. In the sample of antipsychotic-naive patients (n = 771), volume reductions in caudate nucleus (d = -0.38) and thalamus (d = -0.68) were more pronounced than in medicated patients. White matter volume was decreased to a similar extent in both groups, while gray matter loss was less extensive in antipsychotic-naive patients. Gray matter reduction was associated with longer duration of illness and higher dose of antipsychotic medication at time of scanning. Therefore, brain loss in schizophrenia is related to a combination of (early) neurodevelopmental processes-reflected in intracranial volume reduction-as well as illness progression.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Thousands of common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are weakly associated with schizophrenia. It is likely that subsets of disease-associated SNPs are associated with distinct heritable disease-associated phenotypes. Therefore, we examined the shared genetic susceptibility modulating schizophrenia and brain volume. METHODS: Odds ratios for genome-wide SNP data were calculated in the sample collected by the Psychiatric Genome-wide Association Study Consortium (8690 schizophrenia patients and 11,831 control subjects, excluding subjects from the present study). These were used to calculate individual polygenic schizophrenia (risk) scores in an independent sample of 152 schizophrenia patients and 142 healthy control subjects with available structural magnetic resonance imaging scans. RESULTS: In the entire group, the polygenic schizophrenia score was significantly associated with total brain volume (R(2)=.048, p=1.6×10(-4)) and white matter volume (R(2)=.051, p=8.6×10(-5)) equally in patients and control subjects. The number of (independent) SNPs that substantially influenced both disease risk and white matter (n=2020) was much smaller than the entire set of SNPs that modulated disease status (n=14,751). From the set of 2020 SNPs, a group of 186 SNPs showed most evidence for association with white matter volume and an explorative functional analysis showed that these SNPs were located in genes with neuronal functions. CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that a relatively small subset of schizophrenia genetic risk variants is related to the (normal) development of white matter. This, in turn, suggests that disruptions in white matter growth increase the susceptibility to develop schizophrenia.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Several recent studies reported aging effects on DNA methylation levels of individual CpG dinucleotides. But it is not yet known whether aging related consensus modules, in the form of clusters of correlated CpG markers, can be found that are present in multiple human tissues. Such a module could facilitate the understanding of aging effects on multiple tissues. RESULTS: We therefore employed weighted correlation network analysis of 2,442 Illumina DNA methylation arrays from brain and blood tissues, which enabled the identification of an age-related co-methylation module. Module preservation analysis confirmed that this module can also be found in diverse independent data sets. Biological evaluation showed that module membership is associated with Polycomb group target occupancy counts, CpG island status and autosomal chromosome location. Functional enrichment analysis revealed that the aging related consensus module comprises genes that are involved in nervous system development, neuron differentiation and neurogenesis, and that it contains promoter CpGs of genes known to be down-regulated in early Alzheimer's disease. A comparison with a standard, non-module based meta-analysis revealed that selecting CpGs based on module membership leads to significantly increased gene ontology enrichment, thus demonstrating that studying aging effects via consensus network analysis enhances the biological insights gained. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, our analysis revealed a robustly defined age-related co-methylation module that is present in multiple human tissues, including blood and brain. We conclude that blood is a promising surrogate for brain tissue when studying the effects of age on DNA methylation profiles.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In schizophrenia, grey matter deficits have been shown for many regions throughout the brain. These regions do not operate in isolation. Rather, they form a structural network of interconnected grey matter regions. To examine the mutual dependence of brain regions, this study investigated interregional coupling in lobar and regional grey matter volumes obtained from 146 schizophrenia patients and 122 healthy comparison subjects. Compared to healthy controls, schizophrenia patients showed both decreased (e.g. between left frontal and bilateral subcortical, p≤0.005) and increased (e.g. between left temporal and bilateral subcortical, p≤0.001) coupling between lobar grey matter volumes. On a regional scale, decreased coupling was most pronounced between fronto-parietal cortical regions and subcortical structures, and between frontal and occipital regions. In addition, an increased association was found among frontal and limbic regions, and for temporo-occipital connexions. Consistent with dysconnectivity theories of schizophrenia, impaired grey matter coupling may be reflective of reduced integrity of the brain's network. Furthermore, as cross-sectional volumetric coupling is indicative of maturational coupling, aberrant grey matter coupling may be a marker of neurodevelopmental abnormalities in schizophrenia.
European neuropsychopharmacology: the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology 10/2012; · 3.68 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The objective of this study was to examine exercise effects on global brain volume, hippocampal volume, and cortical thickness in schizophrenia patients and healthy controls. Irrespective of diagnosis and intervention, associations between brain changes and cardiorespiratory fitness improvement were examined. Sixty-three schizophrenia patients and fifty-five healthy controls participated in this randomised controlled trial. Global brain volumes, hippocampal volume, and cortical thickness were estimated from 3-Tesla MRI scans. Cardiorespiratory fitness was assessed with a cardiopulmonary ergometer test. Subjects were assigned exercise therapy or occupational therapy (patients) and exercise therapy or life-as-usual (healthy controls) for six months 2h weekly. Exercise therapy effects were analysed for subjects who were compliant at least 50% of sessions offered. Significantly smaller baseline cerebral (grey) matter, and larger third ventricle volumes, and thinner cortex in most areas of the brain were found in patients versus controls. Exercise therapy did not affect global brain and hippocampal volume or cortical thickness in patients and controls. Cardiorespiratory fitness improvement was related to increased cerebral matter volume and lateral and third ventricle volume decrease in patients and to thickening in the left hemisphere in large areas of the frontal, temporal and cingulate cortex irrespective of diagnosis. One to 2h of exercise therapy did not elicit significant brain volume changes in patients or controls. However, cardiorespiratory fitness improvement attenuated brain volume changes in schizophrenia patients and increased thickness in large areas of the left cortex in both schizophrenia patients and healthy controls.
European neuropsychopharmacology: the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology 09/2012; · 3.68 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Structural brain abnormalities have consistently been found in patients with schizophrenia. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) has been shown to be a useful method to measure white matter (WM) integrity in this illness, but findings in the earlier disease stages are inconclusive. Moreover, the relationship between WM microstructure and the familial risk for developing schizophrenia remains unresolved. From 126 patients with schizophrenia, 123 of their non-psychotic siblings and 109 healthy control subjects, DTI images were acquired on a 1.5 T MRI scanner. Mean fractional anisotropy (FA) was compared along averaged WM tracts, computed for the genu, splenium, left and right uncinate fasciculus, cingulum, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, fornix, arcuate fasciculus, and inferior longitudinal fasciculus. Fractional anisotropy (FA) was assessed for its unique environmental and familial (possibly heritable) aspects associated with schizophrenia, using structural equation modeling for these white matter tracts. The results of this study show that young adult (mean age 26.7 years) patients with schizophrenia did not differ in mean FA from healthy controls along WM fibers; siblings of patients showed higher mean FA in the left and right arcuate fasciculus as compared to patients and controls. With increasing age, an excessive decline in mean FA was found in patients as compared to siblings and healthy controls in the genu, left uncinate fasciculus, left inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, and left inferior longitudinal fasciculus. Moreover, symptom severity was negatively correlated to mean FA in the arcuate fasciculus bilaterally in patients with schizophrenia. In young adult patients with schizophrenia integrity of individual tract-based (corticocortical) fibers can (still) be within normal limits. However, changes in the arcuate fasciculus may be relevant to (the risk to develop) psychosis, while a general and widespread loss of fiber integrity may be related to illness progression.
European neuropsychopharmacology: the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology 07/2012; · 3.68 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The human brain is a complex network of interconnected brain regions. In adulthood, the brain's network was recently found to be under genetic influence. However, the extent to which genes influence the functional brain network early in development is not yet known. We report on the heritability of functional brain efficiency during early brain development. Using a twin design, young children underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scans (N=86 from 21MZ and 22DZ twin-pairs, age=12 years). Functional connectivity, defined as the temporal dependency of neuronal activation patterns of anatomically separated brain regions, was explored using graph theory and its heritability was examined using structural equation modeling. Our findings suggest that 'global efficiency of communication' among brain regions is under genetic control (h(2)lambda=42%), irrespectively of the total number of brain connections (connectivity density). In addition, no influence of genes or common environment to local clustering (gamma) was found, suggesting a less pronounced effect of genes on local information segregation. Thus our findings suggest that a set of genes is shaping the underlying architecture of functional brain communication during development.
European neuropsychopharmacology: the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology 07/2012; · 3.68 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Current drugs for treating schizophrenia are mostly variations on a theme that was started over 50 years ago. Sadly, clinical efficacy has not improved substantially over the years. We argue that both clinical and preclinical researchers have focused too much on psychosis, which is only one of the hallmarks of schizophrenia. This narrow focus has hampered the development of relevant animal models and human experimental medicine paradigms. Other fields in psychiatry, most notably in the realms of addiction and anxiety, have prospered from results obtained in parallel studies using animal models and experimental human studies. Lessons to be learned from those models and recent genetic and cognitive insights in schizophrenia can be utilized to develop better animal and human models and, potentially, novel treatment strategies.
Trends in Pharmacological Sciences 07/2012; 33(10):515-21. · 9.25 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Nightmares and insomnia in PTSD are hallmark symptoms, yet poorly understood in comparison to the advances toward a biological framework for the disorder. According to polysomnography (PSG), only minor changes in sleep architecture were described. This warrants alternative methods for assessing sleep regulation in PTSD. METHODS: After screening for obstructive sleep apnea and period limb movement disorder, veterans with PTSD (n=13), trauma controls (TCs, n=17) and healthy controls (HCs, n=15) slept in our sleep laboratory on two consecutive nights with an IV catheter out of which blood was sampled every 20min from 22:00h to 08:00h. Nocturnal levels of plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), cortisol, melatonin were assessed in conjunction with PSG registration, as well as subjective sleep parameters. RESULTS: PTSD patients showed a significant increase in awakenings during sleep in comparison to both control groups. These awakenings were correlated with ACTH levels during the night, and with the subjective perception of sleep depth. Also, heart rate (HR) was significantly increased in PTSD patients as compared with both control groups. The diurnal regulation of ACTH, cortisol and melatonin appeared undisturbed. PTSD patients exhibited lower cortisol levels at borderline significance (p=0.056) during the first half of the night. ACTH levels and cortisol levels during the first half of the night were inversely related to slow wave sleep (SWS). CONCLUSION: This study suggests that hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity is related to sleep fragmentation in PTSD. Also, activity of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is increased during sleep in PTSD. Further research is necessary to explore the potential causal relationship between sleep problems and the activity of the HPA-axis and SNS in PTSD.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: Auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH), a prominent symptom of schizophrenia, are often highly distressing for patients. Better understanding of the pathogenesis of hallucinations could increase therapeutic options. Magnetoence-phalography (MEG) provides direct measures of neuronal activity and has an excellent temporal resolution, offering a unique opportunity to study AVH pathophysiology. Methods: Twelve patients (10 paranoid schizophrenia, 2 psychosis not otherwise specified) indicated the presence of AVH by button-press while lying in a MEG scanner. As a control condition, patients performed a self-paced button-press task. AVH-state and non-AVH state were contrasted in a region-of-interest (ROI) approach. In addition, the two seconds before AVH onset were contrasted with the two seconds after AVH onset to elucidate a possible triggering mechanism. Results: AVH correlated with a decrease in beta-band power in the left temporal cortex. A decrease in alpha-band power was observed in the right inferior frontal gyrus. AVH onset was related to a decrease in theta-band power in the right hippocampus. Conclusions: These results suggest that AVH are triggered by a short aberration in the theta band in a memory-related structure, followed by activity in language areas accompanying the experience of AVH itself. Copyright: ß 2012 van Lutterveld et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Network studies of human brain structural connectivity have identified a specific set of brain regions that are both highly connected and highly central. Recent analyses have shown that these putative hub regions are mutually and densely interconnected, forming a "rich club" within the human brain. Here we show that the set of pathways linking rich club regions forms a central high-cost, high-capacity backbone for global brain communication. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data of two sets of 40 healthy subjects were used to map structural brain networks. The contributions to network cost and communication capacity of global cortico-cortical connections were assessed through measures of their topology and spatial embedding. Rich club connections were found to be more costly than predicted by their density alone and accounted for 40% of the total communication cost. Furthermore, 69% of all minimally short paths between node pairs were found to travel through the rich club and a large proportion of these communication paths consisted of ordered sequences of edges ("path motifs") that first fed into, then traversed, and finally exited the rich club, while passing through nodes of increasing and then decreasing degree. The prevalence of short paths that follow such ordered degree sequences suggests that neural communication might take advantage of strategies for dynamic routing of information between brain regions, with an important role for a highly central rich club. Taken together, our results show that rich club connections make an important contribution to interregional signal traffic, forming a central high-cost, high-capacity backbone for global brain communication.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2012; 109(28):11372-7. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: From childhood into adolescence, the child's brain undergoes considerable changes in both structure and function. Twin studies are of great value to explore to what extent genetic and environmental factors explain individual differences in brain development and cognition. In The Netherlands, we initiated a longitudinal study in which twins, their siblings and their parents are assessed at three year intervals. The participants were recruited from The Netherlands Twin Register (NTR) and at baseline consisted of 112 families, with 9-year-old twins and an older sibling. Three years later, 89 families returned for follow-up assessment. Data collection included psychometric IQ tests, a comprehensive neuropsychological testing protocol, and parental and self-ratings of behavioral and emotional problems. Physical maturation was measured through assessment of Tanner stages. Hormonal levels (cortisol, luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, testosterone, and estrogens) were assessed in urine and saliva. Brain scans were acquired using 1.5 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), which provided volumetric measures and measures of cortical thickness. Buccal swabs were collected for DNA isolation for future candidate gene and genome-wide analysis studies. This article gives an overview of the study and the main findings. Participants will return for a third assessment when the twins are around 16 years old. Longitudinal twin-sibling studies that map brain development and cognitive function at well-defined ages aid in the understanding of genetic influences on normative brain development.
Twin Research and Human Genetics 06/2012; 15(3):453-67. · 1.64 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Negative symptoms that do not improve following antipsychotic treatment represent a challenge for development of effective treatments. Few studies have been carried out so far, especially in first-episode schizophrenia patients, to clarify prevalence, correlates and impact of persistent negative symptoms (PNS) on short- and long-term outcome of the disease. All patients from EUFEST study for whom both baseline and 12-month assessments were available were included (N=345). PNS were defined as the presence of at least one negative symptom of moderate or higher severity, not confounded by depression or parkinsonism, at baseline and after 1 year of treatment. Patients with PNS were compared to those with at least one negative symptom of moderate or higher severity at the baseline, not persisting after 1 year, on demographic, clinical, neurocognitive, global functioning and quality of life measures. PNS not confounded by depression or parkinsonism were present in 6.7% of the sample. The symptom that more often persisted was blunted affect. Patients with PNS differed from those without PNS for a longer duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) and a more frequent discontinuation of study treatment; they also had a poorer psychopathological outcome and a worse global functioning after 1 year of treatment. The presence of PNS was associated to poorer improvement of all psychopathological dimensions and worse global functioning after 1 year of treatment. The longer DUP in subjects with PNS suggests that programs aimed at shortening DUP might reduce the prevalence of PNS and improve prognosis of schizophrenia.
European neuropsychopharmacology: the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology 05/2012; · 3.68 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Depressive symptomatology is an important target of treatment in first episode schizophrenia. This reanalysis of the European First Episode Schizophrenia Trial (EUFEST) describes the depressive symptomatology and the effect of antipsychotic treatment in patients suffering from first episode schizophrenia and schizophreniform disorder randomized to treatment with low dose haloperidol (n=103), amisulpride (n=104), olanzapine (n=105), quetiapine (n=104) or ziprasidone (n=82) for one year. At baseline, the mean score on the Calgary Depression Scale for Schizophrenia (CDSS) was 5.1 (±4.9) with 38.3% of patients having a CDSS score≥6, i.e. clinically relevant depressive symptom severity. During treatment depression scores decreased, the mean CDSS score being 1.1 (±2.1) and 3.0% of patients having a CDSS≥6 at 52 weeks. The proportion of patients using antidepressants during the complete trial was 18.5% in the haloperidol group, 28.6% in the olanzapine group compared to 5.8% in the quetiapine group, 12.5% in the amisulpride group, and 9.8% in the ziprasidone group. There were no differences over time in the probability of being depressed (CDSS≥6) between the 5 treatment groups after adjustment for antidepressant use, nor in a sub analysis of patients who did not take any antidepressant. Depression scores at baseline or during the trial had no effect on treatment discontinuation or on the reduction of positive symptoms. In summary, the results of EUFEST did not demonstrate a differential effect of the antipsychotics studied on depressive symptomatology in patients with first episode schizophrenia.
European neuropsychopharmacology: the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology 05/2012; · 3.68 Impact Factor