[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A growing body of research demonstrates that individuals diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) are characterized by shortened telomere length, which has been posited to underlie the association between depression and increased instances of medical illness. The temporal nature of the relation between MDD and shortened telomere length, however, is not clear. Importantly, both MDD and telomere length have been associated independently with high levels of stress, implicating dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and anomalous levels of cortisol secretion in this relation. Despite these associations, no study has assessed telomere length or its relation with HPA-axis activity in individuals at risk for depression, before the onset of disorder. In the present study, we assessed cortisol levels in response to a laboratory stressor and telomere length in 97 healthy young daughters of mothers either with recurrent episodes of depression (i.e., daughters at familial risk for depression) or with no history of psychopathology. We found that daughters of depressed mothers had shorter telomeres than did daughters of never-depressed mothers and, further, that shorter telomeres were associated with greater cortisol reactivity to stress. This study is the first to demonstrate that children at familial risk of developing MDD are characterized by accelerated biological aging, operationalized as shortened telomere length, before they had experienced an onset of depression; this may predispose them to develop not only MDD but also other age-related medical illnesses. It is critical, therefore, that we attempt to identify and distinguish genetic and environmental mechanisms that contribute to telomere shortening.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 30 September 2014; doi:10.1038/mp.2014.119.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rare copy-number variation (CNV) is an important source of risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). We analyzed 2,446 ASD-affected families and confirmed an excess of genic deletions and duplications in affected versus control groups (1.41-fold, p = 1.0 × 10(-5)) and an increase in affected subjects carrying exonic pathogenic CNVs overlapping known loci associated with dominant or X-linked ASD and intellectual disability (odds ratio = 12.62, p = 2.7 × 10(-15), ∼3% of ASD subjects). Pathogenic CNVs, often showing variable expressivity, included rare de novo and inherited events at 36 loci, implicating ASD-associated genes (CHD2, HDAC4, and GDI1) previously linked to other neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as other genes such as SETD5, MIR137, and HDAC9. Consistent with hypothesized gender-specific modulators, females with ASD were more likely to have highly penetrant CNVs (p = 0.017) and were also overrepresented among subjects with fragile X syndrome protein targets (p = 0.02). Genes affected by de novo CNVs and/or loss-of-function single-nucleotide variants converged on networks related to neuronal signaling and development, synapse function, and chromatin regulation.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 04/2014; · 11.20 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Separate bodies of literature report that elevated pro-inflammatory cytokines and cortisol negatively affect hippocampal structure and cognitive functioning, particularly in older adults. Although interactions between cytokines and cortisol occur through a variety of known mechanisms, few studies consider how their interactions affect brain structure. In this preliminary study, we assess the impact of interactions between circulating levels of IL-1Beta, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-12, TNF-alpha, and waking cortisol on hippocampal volume. Twenty-eight community-dwelling older adults underwent blood draws for quantification of circulating cytokines and saliva collections to quantify the cortisol awakening response. Hippocampal volume measurements were made using structural magnetic resonance imaging. Elevated levels of waking cortisol in conjunction with higher concentrations of IL-6 and TNF-alpha were associated with smaller hippocampal volumes. In addition, independent of cortisol, higher levels of IL-1beta and TNF-alpha were also associated with smaller hippocampal volumes. These data provide preliminary evidence that higher cortisol, in conjunction with higher IL-6 and TNF-alpha, are associated with smaller hippocampal volume in older adults. We suggest that the dynamic balance between the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal axis and inflammation processes may explain hippocampal volume reductions in older adults better than either set of measures do in isolation.
Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 01/2014; 6:153. · 5.20 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introduction: Multiple studies associate prenatal and perinatal complications with increased risks for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). The objectives of this study were to utilize a twin study design to 1) Investigate whether shared gestational and perinatal factors increase concordance for ASDs in twins, 2) Determine whether individual neonatal factors are associated with the presence of ASDs in twins, and 3) Explore whether associated factors may influence males and females differently. Methods: Data from medical records and parent response questionnaires from 194 twin pairs, in which at least one twin had an ASD, were analyzed. Results: Shared factors including parental age, prenatal use of medications, uterine bleeding, and prematurity did not increase concordance risks for ASDs in twins. Among the individual factors, respiratory distress demonstrated the strongest association with increased risk for ASDs in the group as a whole (OR 2.11, 95% CI 1.27-3.51). Furthermore, respiratory distress (OR 2.29, 95% CI 1.12-4.67) and other markers of hypoxia (OR 1.99, 95% CI 1.04-3.80) were associated with increased risks for ASDs in males, while jaundice was associated with an increased risk for ASDs in females (OR 2.94, 95% CI 1.28-6.74). Conclusions: Perinatal factors associated with respiratory distress and other markers of hypoxia appear to increase risk for autism in a subgroup of twins. Future studies examining potential gender differences and additional prenatal, perinatal and postnatal environmental factors are required for elucidating the etiology of ASDs and suggesting new methods for treatment and prevention.
Journal of Psychiatric Research 01/2014; · 4.09 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) protein has been implicated in the pathophysiology of mood disorders, with early data suggesting that blood levels may vary by severity of mood symptoms. BDNF polymorphism, val66met, has also been implicated in mood disorders.
Euthymic women with bipolar disorder (BD) (n=47) and healthy control women (n=26), ages 18-45, were clinically rated using the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) and sampled for plasma BDNF concentration, with a subset undergoing genetic analysis for the val66met.
BD and control groups did not differ on any demographic variables, nor in plasma BDNF levels or val66met polymorphism. Plasma BDNF concentration did not differ by val66met or BD subtype, nor was it correlated with age or illness duration. Within women with BD, lower plasma BDNF concentrations were significantly associated with higher MADRS scores, even after controlling for psychotropic medication use and illness duration.
The sample was relatively small and exclusive to women, with further research needed to investigate the links between BDNF markers and mood symptom severity in both men and women.
The study provides a gender-specific investigation of plasma BDNF levels and mood, and the results add further evidence of a significant interplay between BDNF markers and psychiatric symptomatology. Further, this association did not appear to be confounded by use of psychotropic medication. Studies with larger samples of both genders are needed to further delineate this relationship.
Journal of affective disorders 12/2013; · 3.76 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phelan-McDermid syndrome (PMDS) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by global developmental delay, severely impaired speech, intellectual disability, and an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). PMDS is caused by heterozygous deletions of chromosome 22q13.3. Among the genes in the deleted region is SHANK3, which encodes a protein in the postsynaptic density (PSD). Rare mutations in SHANK3 have been associated with idiopathic ASDs, non-syndromic intellectual disability, and schizophrenia. Although SHANK3 is considered to be the most likely candidate gene for the neurological abnormalities in PMDS patients, the cellular and molecular phenotypes associated with this syndrome in human neurons are unknown. We generated induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from individuals with PMDS and autism and used them to produce functional neurons. We show that PMDS neurons have reduced SHANK3 expression and major defects in excitatory, but not inhibitory, synaptic transmission. Excitatory synaptic transmission in PMDS neurons can be corrected by restoring SHANK3 expression or by treating neurons with insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1). IGF1 treatment promotes formation of mature excitatory synapses that lack SHANK3 but contain PSD95 and N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors with fast deactivation kinetics. Our findings provide direct evidence for a disruption in the ratio of cellular excitation and inhibition in PMDS neurons, and point to a molecular pathway that can be recruited to restore it.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous studies in narcolepsy, an autoimmune disorder affecting hypocretin (orexin) neurons and recently associated with H1N1 influenza, have demonstrated significant associations with five loci. Using a well-characterized Chinese cohort, we refined known associations in TRA@ and P2RY11-DNMT1 and identified new associations in the TCR beta (TRB@; rs9648789 max P = 3.7×10(-9) OR 0.77), ZNF365 (rs10995245 max P = 1.2×10(-11) OR 1.23), and IL10RB-IFNAR1 loci (rs2252931 max P = 2.2×10(-9) OR 0.75). Variants in the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA)- DQ region were associated with age of onset (rs7744020 P = 7.9×10(-9) beta -1.9 years) and varied significantly among cases with onset after the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic compared to previous years (rs9271117 P = 7.8×10(-10) OR 0.57). These reflected an association of DQB1*03:01 with earlier onset and decreased DQB1*06:02 homozygosity following 2009. Our results illustrate how genetic association can change in the presence of new environmental challenges and suggest that the monitoring of genetic architecture over time may help reveal the appearance of novel triggers for autoimmune diseases.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most psychiatric disorders are moderately to highly heritable. The degree to which genetic variation is unique to individual disorders or shared across disorders is unclear. To examine shared genetic etiology, we use genome-wide genotype data from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) for cases and controls in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We apply univariate and bivariate methods for the estimation of genetic variation within and covariation between disorders. SNPs explained 17–29% of the variance in liability. The genetic correlation calculated using common SNPs was high between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (0.68 ± 0.04 s.e.), moderate between schizophrenia and major depressive disorder (0.43 ± 0.06 s.e.), bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder (0.47 ± 0.06 s.e.), and ADHD and major depressive disorder (0.32 ± 0.07 s.e.), low between schizophrenia and ASD (0.16 ± 0.06 s.e.) and non-significant for other pairs of disorders as well as between psychiatric disorders and the negative control of Crohn’s disease. This empirical evidence of shared genetic etiology for psychiatric disorders can inform nosology and encourages the investigation of common pathophysiologies for related disorders.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is increasing evidence that genomic imprinting, a process by which certain genes are expressed in a parent-of-origin-specific manner, can influence neurogenetic and psychiatric manifestations. While some data suggest possible imprinting effects of the X chromosome on physical and cognitive characteristics in humans, there is no compelling evidence that X-linked imprinting affects brain morphology. To address this issue, we investigated regional cortical volume, thickness, and surface area in 27 healthy controls and 40 prepubescent girls with Turner syndrome (TS), a condition caused by the absence of one X chromosome. Of the young girls with TS, 23 inherited their X chromosome from their mother (X(m)) and 17 from their father (X(p)). Our results confirm the existence of significant differences in brain morphology between girls with TS and controls, and reveal the presence of a putative imprinting effect among the TS groups: girls with X(p) demonstrated thicker cortex than those with X(m) in the temporal regions bilaterally, while X(m) individuals showed bilateral enlargement of gray matter volume in the superior frontal regions compared with X(p). These data suggest the existence of imprinting effects of the X chromosome that influence both cortical thickness and volume during early brain development, and help to explain variability in cognitive and behavioral manifestations of TS with regard to the parental origin of the X chromosome.
Journal of Neuroscience 05/2013; 33(19):8567-74. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent advances in the identification of susceptibility genes and environmental exposures provide broad support for a post-infectious autoimmune basis for narcolepsy/hypocretin (orexin) deficiency. We genotyped loci associated with other autoimmune and inflammatory diseases in 1,886 individuals with hypocretin-deficient narcolepsy and 10,421 controls, all of European ancestry, using a custom genotyping array (ImmunoChip). Three loci located outside the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) region on chromosome 6 were significantly associated with disease risk. In addition to a strong signal in the T cell receptor alpha (TRA@), variants in two additional narcolepsy loci, Cathepsin H () and Tumor necrosis factor (ligand) superfamily member 4 (, also called ), attained genome-wide significance. These findings underline the importance of antigen presentation by HLA Class II to T cells in the pathophysiology of this autoimmune disease.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine the genetic relationship between head circumference (HC) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Twin pairs with at least one twin with an ASD were assessed. HCs in affected and unaffected individuals were compared, as were HC correlations in monozygotic and dizygotic pairs. 404 subjects, ages 4-18, were included. 20 % of males and 27 % of females with an ASD had macrocephaly. Unaffected co-twins showed similar rates (16 % of males and 22 % of females). Statistical analysis revealed no significant difference in HCs between affected and unaffected twins. Twins with ASDs and unaffected co-twins have similar HCs and increased rates of macrocephaly. Correlations demonstrated partial inheritance of HCs. Thus, macrocephaly may represent an endophenotype in ASDs.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 01/2013; · 3.06 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Gene-environment interactions may contribute to bipolar disorder (BD) clinical course variability. We examined effects of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) val66met genotype and early life stress (ELS) upon illness severity and chronicity in adult BD patients. METHODS: 80 patients (43 BD I, 33 BD II, 4 BD not otherwise specified, mean ± SD age 46.4 ± 14.0 years, 63.7% female) receiving open evidence-based and measurement-based care in the Stanford Bipolar Disorders Clinic for at least 12 months underwent BDNF val66met genotyping and completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. BDNF met allele carrier genotype and history of childhood sexual and physical abuse were evaluated in relation to mean prior-year Clinical Global Impressions-Bipolar Version-Overall Severity of Illness (MPY-CGI-BP-OS) score and clinical and demographic characteristics. RESULTS: BDNF met allele carriers (but not non-met allele carriers) with compared to without childhood sexual abuse had 21% higher MPY-CGI-BP-OS scores (3.5 ± 0.7 versus 2.9 ± 0.7, respectively, t = -2.4, df = 28, p = 0.025) and 35% earlier BD onset age (14.6 ± 5.7 versus 22.8 ± 7.9 years, respectively, t = 3.0, df = 27, p = 0.006). Regression analysis, however, was non-significant for a BDNF-childhood sexual abuse interaction. LIMITATIONS: small sample of predominantly female Caucasian insured outpatients taking complex medication regimens; only one gene polymorphism considered. CONCLUSIONS: Between group comparisons suggested BDNF met allele carrier genotype might amplify negative effects of ELS upon BD illness severity/chronicity, although with regression analysis, there was not a significant gene-environment interaction. Further studies with larger samples are warranted to assess whether BDNF met allele carriers with ELS are at risk for more severe/chronic BD illness course.
Journal of Psychiatric Research 11/2012; · 4.09 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: While it is apparent that rare variation can play an important role in the genetic architecture of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), the contribution of common variation to the risk of developing ASD is less clear. To produce a more comprehensive picture, we report Stage 2 of the Autism Genome Project genome-wide association study, adding 1301 ASD families and bringing the total to 2705 families analysed (Stages 1 and 2). In addition to evaluating the association of individual single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), we also sought evidence that common variants, en masse, might affect the risk. Despite genotyping over a million SNPs covering the genome, no single SNP shows significant association with ASD or selected phenotypes at a genome-wide level. The SNP that achieves the smallest P-value from secondary analyses is rs1718101. It falls in CNTNAP2, a gene previously implicated in susceptibility for ASD. This SNP also shows modest association with age of word/phrase acquisition in ASD subjects, of interest because features of language development are also associated with other variation in CNTNAP2. In contrast, allele scores derived from the transmission of common alleles to Stage 1 cases significantly predict case status in the independent Stage 2 sample. Despite being significant, the variance explained by these allele scores was small (Vm< 1%). Based on results from individual SNPs and their en masse effect on risk, as inferred from the allele score results, it is reasonable to conclude that common variants affect the risk for ASD but their individual effects are modest.
Human Molecular Genetics 07/2012; 21(21):4781-92. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent evidence suggests that the cognitive and social manifestations associated with Turner syndrome (TS) might be influenced by epigenetic factors in the form of genomic imprinting. However, due to small and heterogeneous samples, inconsistent results have emerged from these studies.
The objective of this prospective study was to establish the impact of genomic imprinting on neurocognitive abilities and social functioning in young girls with TS.
An extensive battery of neuropsychological assessments was administered to 65 children with TS who had never been exposed to estrogen treatment, 24 of whom had an X-chromosome from paternal origin (Xpat) and 41 from maternal origin (Xmat).
The Wechsler scales of intelligence, the Motor-Free Visual Spatial test-3, the Wide Range Assessment of Visual Motor Ability, and the attention/executive domain of the NEPSY were used to assess cognitive abilities. Social functioning was assessed with the Social Responsiveness Scale and the Behavior Assessment System for Children-2.
Results showed that although individuals with Xpat obtained lower scores than their counterparts with Xmat on most cognitive and social measures, only the Perceptual Reasoning Index of the intelligence scale yielded significant differences after correction for multiple comparisons.
Overall, these results suggest that although some aspects of the neuropsychological profile of TS may be influenced by epigenetic factors, the sociocognitive phenotype associated with the disorder is not modulated by genomic imprinting.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 03/2012; 97(3):E460-4. · 6.31 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxia, deafness and narcolepsy (ADCA-DN) is characterized by late onset (30-40 years old) cerebellar ataxia, sensory neuronal deafness, narcolepsy-cataplexy and dementia. We performed exome sequencing in five individuals from three ADCA-DN kindreds and identified DNMT1 as the only gene with mutations found in all five affected individuals. Sanger sequencing confirmed the de novo mutation p.Ala570Val in one family, and showed co-segregation of p.Val606Phe and p.Ala570Val, with the ADCA-DN phenotype, in two other kindreds. An additional ADCA-DN kindred with a p.GLY605Ala mutation was subsequently identified. Narcolepsy and deafness were the first symptoms to appear in all pedigrees, followed by ataxia. DNMT1 is a widely expressed DNA methyltransferase maintaining methylation patterns in development, and mediating transcriptional repression by direct binding to HDAC2. It is also highly expressed in immune cells and required for the differentiation of CD4+ into T regulatory cells. Mutations in exon 20 of this gene were recently reported to cause hereditary sensory neuropathy with dementia and hearing loss (HSAN1). Our mutations are all located in exon 21 and in very close spatial proximity, suggesting distinct phenotypes depending on mutation location within this gene.
Human Molecular Genetics 02/2012; 21(10):2205-10. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Resilience is proposed as a significant component of successful aging. Young adult carriers of the Serotonin Transporter Polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) short(s) allele appear to have reduced resilience to stress. We examined whether the presence of the short allele was associated with poorer emotional resilience in older adults.
In a cross-sectional study of 99 healthy, community-dwelling, older adults, we determined 5-HTTLPR genotype status and administered the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale and self-reported measures of successful aging, cognition, and health.
There was no significant association between the 5-HTTLPR s allele and resilience. S allele carriers had worse cognition and self-report ratings of successful aging.
These findings suggest that the impact of the 5-HTTLPR s allele on stress-related outcomes may attenuate with older age. However, s allele status appears to be a biomarker of poorer self-rated successful aging, and cognitive performance in older adults.
The American journal of geriatric psychiatry: official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry 01/2012; 20(5):452-6. · 3.35 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Insulin resistance (IR) is the main pathological condition underlying vascular disorders, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which are well established risk factors for cognitive decline and Alzheimer disease (AD). Hippocampal atrophy has been associated with cognitive decline, but little is known about the influence of IR on hippocampus integrity in non-diabetic, cognitively intact individuals. Herein, 50 women ages 50-65, current users of hormone therapy, underwent magnetic resonance imaging, cognitive testing, and homeostatic assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), as part of a longitudinal study examining brain structure and function in postmenopausal women at risk for AD. Results demonstrated a significant negative relationship between HOMA-IR and right and total hippocampal volume, overall cognitive performance, and selective tests of verbal and non-verbal memory. The main effect of HOMA-IR on brain structure and cognition was not altered by the presence of APOE-ε4 allele or by reproductive history, such as duration of endogenous and exogenous estrogen exposure. These results suggest that IR in middle-aged individuals at risk for AD may be biomarker for dementia risk.
Neurobiology of aging 11/2011; 32(11):1942-8. · 5.94 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a highly heritable disorder of complex and heterogeneous aetiology. It is primarily characterized by altered cognitive ability including impaired language and communication skills and fundamental deficits in social reciprocity. Despite some notable successes in neuropsychiatric genetics, overall, the high heritability of ASD (~90%) remains poorly explained by common genetic risk variants. However, recent studies suggest that rare genomic variation, in particular copy number variation, may account for a significant proportion of the genetic basis of ASD. We present a large scale analysis to identify candidate genes which may contain low-frequency recessive variation contributing to ASD while taking into account the potential contribution of population differences to the genetic heterogeneity of ASD. Our strategy, homozygous haplotype (HH) mapping, aims to detect homozygous segments of identical haplotype structure that are shared at a higher frequency amongst ASD patients compared to parental controls. The analysis was performed on 1,402 Autism Genome Project trios genotyped for 1 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We identified 25 known and 1,218 novel ASD candidate genes in the discovery analysis including CADM2, ABHD14A, CHRFAM7A, GRIK2, GRM3, EPHA3, FGF10, KCND2, PDZK1, IMMP2L and FOXP2. Furthermore, 10 of the previously reported ASD genes and 300 of the novel candidates identified in the discovery analysis were replicated in an independent sample of 1,182 trios. Our results demonstrate that regions of HH are significantly enriched for previously reported ASD candidate genes and the observed association is independent of gene size (odds ratio 2.10). Our findings highlight the applicability of HH mapping in complex disorders such as ASD and offer an alternative approach to the analysis of genome-wide association data.
Human Genetics 10/2011; 131(4):565-79. · 4.63 Impact Factor