[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite a remarkable co-occurrence of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and schizophrenia, little is known about the clinical and etiological relationship of these 2 disorders. Exploring the degree to which these disorders share etiological factors might provide useful implications for clinicians, researchers, and those with the disorders.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Early life stress (ELS) is associated with increased vulnerability for diseases in later life, including psychiatric disorders. Animal models and human studies suggest that this effect is mediated by epigenetic mechanisms. In humans, epigenetic studies to investigate the influence of ELS on psychiatric phenotypes are limited by the inaccessibility of living brain tissue. Due to the tissue-specific nature of epigenetic signatures, it is impossible to determine whether ELS induced epigenetic changes in accessible peripheral cells, for example, blood lymphocytes, reflect epigenetic changes in the brain. To overcome these limitations, we applied a cross-species approach involving: (i) the analysis of CD34+ cells from human cord blood; (ii) the examination of blood-derived CD3+ T cells of newborn and adolescent nonhuman primates (Macaca mulatta); and (iii) the investigation of the prefrontal cortex of adult rats. Several regions in MORC1 (MORC family CW-type zinc finger 1; previously known as: microrchidia (mouse) homolog) were differentially methylated in response to ELS in CD34+ cells and CD3+ T cells derived from the blood of human and monkey neonates, as well as in CD3+ T cells derived from the blood of adolescent monkeys and in the prefrontal cortex of adult rats. MORC1 is thus the first identified epigenetic marker of ELS to be present in blood cell progenitors at birth and in the brain in adulthood. Interestingly, a gene-set-based analysis of data from a genome-wide association study of major depressive disorder (MDD) revealed an association of MORC1 with MDD.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bipolar disorder (BD) is a highly heritable psychiatric disease characterized by recurrent episodes of mania and depression. To identify new BD genes and pathways, the present study employed a three-step approach. First, gene-expression profiles of BD patients were assessed during both a manic and an euthymic phase. These profiles were compared intra-individually and with the gene-expression profiles of controls. Second, those differentially expressed genes that were considered potential trait markers of BD were validated using data from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortiums' genome-wide association study (GWAS) of BD. Third, the implicated molecular mechanisms were investigated using pathway analytical methods. In the present patients, this novel approach identified: (i) sets of differentially expressed genes specific to mania and euthymia; and (ii) a set of differentially expressed genes that were common to both mood states. In the GWAS data integration analysis, one gene (STAB1) remained significant (P=1.9 × 10(-4)) after adjustment for multiple testing. STAB1 is located in close proximity to PBMR1 and the NEK4-ITIH1-ITIH3-ITIH4 region, which are the top findings from GWAS meta-analyses of mood disorder, and a combined BD and schizophrenia data set. Pathway analyses in the mania versus control comparison revealed three distinct clusters of pathways tagging molecular mechanisms implicated in BD, for example, energy metabolism, inflammation and the ubiquitin proteasome system. The present findings suggest that STAB1 is a new and highly promising candidate gene in this region. The combining of gene expression and GWAS data may provide valuable insights into the biological mechanisms of BD.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Schizophrenia is a highly heritable disorder. Genetic risk is conferred by a large number of alleles, including common alleles of small effect that might be detected by genome-wide association studies. Here we report a multi-stage schizophrenia genome-wide association study of up to 36,989 cases and 113,075 controls. We identify 128 independent associations spanning 108 conservatively defined loci that meet genome-wide significance, 83 of which have not been previously reported. Associations were enriched among genes expressed in brain, providing biological plausibility for the findings. Many findings have the potential to provide entirely new insights into aetiology, but associations at DRD2 and several genes involved in glutamatergic neurotransmission highlight molecules of known and potential therapeutic relevance to schizophrenia, and are consistent with leading pathophysiological hypotheses. Independent of genes expressed in brain, associations were enriched among genes expressed in tissues that have important roles in immunity, providing support for the speculated link between the immune system and schizophrenia.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bipolar disorder is a severe disorder of mood with a lifetime prevalence of about 1%. The disease is characterized by recurrent episodes of mania and depression and shows a high heritability of about 70%. Molecular genetic candidate and lately genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified a number of susceptibility genes contributing to the etiology of bipolar disorder. However, the disease relevant pathways and regulatory networks are still largely unknown. microRNAs are a class of 21-25-nucleotide small non-coding RNAs. They control the expression of their target genes by binding to target sites in messenger RNAs (mRNAs). Each microRNA usually controls up to several hundred target mRNAs, while one mRNA target can be synergistically regulated by multiple microRNAs. This allows microRNAs to integrate different intracellular signals and to regulate various signalling pathways. Accumulating evidence suggests that microRNAs contribute to the basic mechanisms underlying brain development and synaptic plasticity. This in turn suggests their possible involvement in the pathogenesis of various psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder.
The aim of the present study was to systematically investigate whether common variants at all known microRNA loci listed in the miRBase database (release 13.0) contribute to the development of bipolar dis¬order. For this purpose we performed gene-based analyses for all microRNAs and +/- 20kb flanking sequences using VEGAS on the largest existing GWAS dataset of bipolar disorder comprising of 9,747 patients and 14,278 controls (Mühleisen et al., 2013). In this dataset we combined our data obtained from four European countries, Canada, and Australia with the results of the large bipolar disorder GWAS by the multinational Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (Sklar et al., 2011). Our analysis revealed that 98 of the 609 microRNAs showed nominally significant p values. The observed number of microRNAs with a p value of < 0.05 was significantly higher than expected (i.e. n=30, p=0.006), indicating that bipolar disorder-associated microRNAs are enriched within the known microRNA loci. After correction for multiple testing, nine microRNAs showed a significant association with bipolar disorder (let-7g, miR-135a, miR-499, miR-581, miR-611, miR-640, miR-644, miR-708, miR-1908). These included microRNAs known to be involved in neural development, neuronal differentiation and synaptic plasticity. The investigation of the affected target genes and the underlying regulatory networks is currently underway and will be presented. Preliminary data provide evidence for an involvement of at least two microRNA-regulated networks in the development of bipolar disorder.
Medizinische Genetik 03/2014; 26(1):94-95. · 0.09 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recently, genome-wide association between schizophrenia and an intronic variant in AMBRA1 (rs11819869) was reported. Additionally, in a reverse genetic approach in adult healthy subjects, risk allele carriers showed a higher medial prefrontal cortex blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) response during a flanker task examining motor inhibition as an aspect of impulsivity. To test whether this finding can be expanded to further aspects of impulsivity, we analysed the effects of the rs11819869 genotype on impulsivity-related traits on a behavioral, temperament and neural level in a large sample of healthy adolescents. We consider this reverse genetic approach specifically suited for use in a healthy adolescent sample, as these individuals comprise those who will eventually develop mental disorders in which impulsivity is implicated. Healthy adolescents from the IMAGEN study were included in the neuropsychological analysis (n = 848) and a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) task (n = 512). Various aspects of impulsivity were assessed using the Temperament and Character Inventory-Revised, the Substance Use Risk Profile Scale, the Cambridge Cognition Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery, and the Stop Signal Task (SST) in the fMRI paradigm. On a behavioral level, increased delay aversion was observed in risk allele carriers. Furthermore, risk allele carriers showed a higher BOLD response in an orbito-frontal target region during the SST, which declined to trend status after Family Wise Error correction. Our findings support the hypothesis that the schizophrenia-related risk variant of rs11819869 is involved in various aspects of impulsivity, and that this involvement occurs on a behavioral as well as an imaging genetics level.
European Journal of Neuroscience 04/2013; · 3.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE Genome-wide association has been reported between the NCAN gene and bipolar disorder. The aims of this study were to characterize the clinical symptomatology most strongly influenced by NCAN and to explore the behavioral phenotype of Ncan knockout (Ncan-/-) mice. METHOD Genotype/phenotype correlations were investigated in patients with bipolar disorder (N=641) and the genetically related disorders major depression (N=597) and schizophrenia (N=480). Principal components and genotype association analyses were used to derive main clinical factors from 69 lifetime symptoms and to determine which of these factors were associated with the NCAN risk allele. These analyses were then repeated using the associated factor(s) only in order to identify the more specific clinical subdimensions that drive the association. Ncan-/- mice were tested using diverse paradigms, assessing a range of behavioral traits, including paradigms corresponding to bipolar symptoms in humans. RESULTS In the combined patient sample, the NCAN risk allele was significantly associated with the "mania" factor, in particular the subdimension "overactivity." Ncan-/- mice were hyperactive and showed more frequent risk-taking and repetitive behaviors, less depression-like conduct, impaired prepulse inhibition, amphetamine hypersensitivity, and increased saccharin preference. These aberrant behavioral responses normalized after the administration of lithium. CONCLUSIONS NCAN preferentially affected mania symptoms in humans. Ncan-/- mice showed behavioral abnormalities that were strikingly similar to those of the human mania phenotype and may thus serve as a valid mouse model.
American Journal of Psychiatry 09/2012; 169(9):982-90. · 14.72 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genome-wide association studies have reported an association between the A-allele of rs1006737 within CACNA1C and affective disorders and schizophrenia. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between rs1006737 and established and potential endophenotypes for these disorders in a population-based cohort of 3793 subjects, using an analytical method designed to assess a previously reported sex-specific effect of CACNA1C. The investigated endophenotypes included personality traits and resilience factors. At 10-year follow-up, subjects were screened for depressive symptoms. All subjects were genotyped for rs1006737. The direction of the effect and mode of inheritance of rs1006737 differed between the sexes. In men, the A-allele was associated with higher emotional lability and lower resilience, that is, lower sense of coherence (P=0.021), lower perceived social support (P=0.018), lower dispositional optimism (P=0.032) and more depressive symptoms at follow-up (P=0.007). In women, the A-allele was associated with lower emotional lability and stronger resilience, that is, higher sense of coherence (P=0.00028), higher perceived social support (P=0.010), lower neuroticism (P=0.022) and fewer depressive symptoms at follow-up (P=0.035). After conservative Bonferroni correction for 32 tests, results only remained significant for sense of coherence in women (P=0.009). These results suggest that CACNA1C is involved in the genetic architecture of endophenotypes for affective disorders and schizophrenia, and that it shows a distinct sex-specific effect. Comprehensive phenotype characterization in case-control samples and the general population, as well as an adequate modeling of sex-specific genetic effects, may be warranted to elucidate the pathogenetic mechanisms conferred by robustly identified susceptibility genes.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 5 June 2012; doi:10.1038/mp.2012.53.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aging of the human brain is accompanied by changes in cortical structure as well as functional activity and variable degrees of cognitive decline. One-third of the observable inter-individual differences in cognitive decline are thought to be heritable. SCN1A encodes the sodium channel α subunit and is considered to be a susceptibility gene for several neurological disorders with prominent cognitive deficits. In a recent genome-wide association study the C allele of the SCN1A variant rs10930201 was observed to be significantly associated with poor short-term memory performance. rs10930201 was further observed to be related to differences in neural activity during a working memory task.
The aim of the present study was to explore whether SCN1A modifies the vulnerability to aging processes of the human brain. Therefore we assessed the interacting effects of the SCN1A vulnerability allele rs10930201 and age in terms of brain activity and brain morphology in 62 healthy volunteers between 21 and 82 years of age.
In C allele carriers, activity in the right inferior frontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex increased with age. Moreover, exploratory analysis revealed regional effects of rs10930201 on brain structure, indicating reduced gray matter densities in the frontal and insular regions in the C allele carriers.
Collectively, the present results suggest that the SCN1A polymorphism has modulatory effects on brain morphology and vulnerability to age-related alterations in brain activity of cortical regions that subserve working memory.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A recent study found genome-wide significant association between common variation in the gene neurocan (NCAN, rs1064395) and bipolar disorder (BD). In view of accumulating evidence that BD and schizophrenia partly share genetic risk factors, we tested this single-nucleotide polymorphism for association with schizophrenia in three independent patient-control samples of European ancestry, totaling 5061 patients and 9655 controls. The rs1064395 A-allele, which confers risk for BD, was significantly over-represented in schizophrenia patients compared to controls (p=2.28×10(-3); odds ratio=1.11). Follow-up in non-overlapping samples from the Schizophrenia Psychiatric GWAS Consortium (5537 patients, 8043 controls) provided further support for our finding (p=0.0239, odds ratio=1.07). Our data suggest that genetic variation in NCAN is a common risk factor for BD and schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia Research 04/2012; 138(1):69-73. · 4.43 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Research suggests that clinical symptom dimensions may be more useful in delineating the genetics of bipolar disorder (BD) than standard diagnostic models. To date, no study has applied this concept to data from genome-wide association studies (GWAS). We performed a GWAS of factor dimensions in 927 clinically well-characterized BD patients of German ancestry. Rs9875793, which is located in an intergenic region of 3q26.1 and in the vicinity of the solute carrier family 2 (facilitated glucose transporter), member 2 gene (SLC2A2), was significantly associated with the factor analysis-derived dimension 'negative mood delusions' (n=927; P=4.65 × 10(-8), odds ratio (OR)=2.66). This dimension was comprised of the symptoms delusions of poverty, delusions of guilt and nihilistic delusions. In case-control analyses, significant association with the G allele of rs9875793 was only observed in the subgroup of BD patients who displayed symptoms of 'negative mood delusions' (allelic χ(2) model: P(G)=0.0001, OR=1.92; item present, n=89). Further support for the hypothesis that rs9875793 is associated with BD in patients displaying 'negative mood delusions' symptom, such as delusions of guilt, was obtained from an European American sample (GAIN/TGEN), which included 1247 BD patients and 1434 controls (P(EA)=0.028, OR=1.27).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent molecular studies have implicated common alleles of small to moderate effect and rare alleles with larger effect sizes in the genetic architecture of schizophrenia (SCZ). It is expected that the reliable detection of risk variants with very small effect sizes can only be achieved through the recruitment of very large samples of patients and controls (that is tens of thousands), or large, potentially more homogeneous samples that have been recruited from confined geographical areas using identical diagnostic criteria. Applying the latter strategy, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 1169 clinically well characterized and ethnically homogeneous SCZ patients from a confined area of Western Europe (464 from Germany, 705 from The Netherlands) and 3714 ethnically matched controls (1272 and 2442, respectively). In a subsequent follow-up study of our top GWAS results, we included an additional 2569 SCZ patients and 4088 controls (from Germany, The Netherlands and Denmark). Genetic variation in a region on chromosome 11 that contains the candidate genes AMBRA1, DGKZ, CHRM4 and MDK was significantly associated with SCZ in the combined sample (n=11 540; P=3.89 × 10−9, odds ratio (OR)=1.25). This finding was replicated in 23 206 independent samples of European ancestry (P=0.0029, OR=1.11). In a subsequent imaging genetics study, healthy carriers of the risk allele exhibited altered activation in the cingulate cortex during a cognitive control task. The area of interest is a critical interface between emotion regulation and cognition that is structurally and functionally abnormal in SCZ and bipolar disorder.Keywords: common variation; genome-wide association study; GWAS; imaging genetics; schizophrenia
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We conducted a combined genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 7,481 individuals with bipolar disorder (cases) and 9,250 controls as part of the Psychiatric GWAS Consortium. Our replication study tested 34 SNPs in 4,496 independent cases with bipolar disorder and 42,422 independent controls and found that 18 of 34 SNPs had P < 0.05, with 31 of 34 SNPs having signals with the same direction of effect (P = 3.8 Ã 10(-7)). An analysis of all 11,974 bipolar disorder cases and 51,792 controls confirmed genome-wide significant evidence of association for CACNA1C and identified a new intronic variant in ODZ4. We identified a pathway comprised of subunits of calcium channels enriched in bipolar disorder association intervals. Finally, a combined GWAS analysis of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder yielded strong association evidence for SNPs in CACNA1C and in the region of NEK4-ITIH1-ITIH3-ITIH4. Our replication results imply that increasing sample sizes in bipolar disorder will confirm many additional loci.