Endophenotypes are heritable and quantifiable traits indexing genetic liability for a disorder. Here, we examined three potential endophenotypes, working memory function, response inhibition, and reaction time variability, for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) measured as a dimensional latent trait in a large general population sample derived from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive DevelopmentSM Study. The genetic risk for ADHD was estimated using polygenic risk scores (PRS) whereas ADHD traits were quantified as a dimensional continuum using Bartlett factor score estimates, derived from Attention Problems items from the Child Behaviour Checklist and Effortful Control items from the Early Adolescent Temperament Questionnaire-Revised. The three candidate cognitive endophenotypes were quantified using task-based performance measures. Higher ADHD PRSs were associated with higher ADHD traits, as well as poorer working memory performance and increased reaction time variability. Lower working memory performance, poorer response inhibition, and increased reaction time variability were associated with more pronounced ADHD traits. Working memory and reaction time variability partially statistically mediated the relationship between ADHD PRS and ADHD traits, explaining 14% and 16% of the association, respectively. The mediation effect was specific to the genetic risk for ADHD and did not generalise to genetic risk for four other major psychiatric disorders. Together, these findings provide robust evidence from a large general population sample that working memory and reaction time variability can be considered endophenotypes for ADHD that mediate the relationship between ADHD PRS and ADHD traits.
Social anhedonia, a loss of interest and pleasure in social interactions, is a common symptom of major depression as well as other psychiatric disorders. Depression can occur at any age, but typically emerges in adolescence or early adulthood, which represents a sensitive period for social interaction that is vulnerable to stress. In this study, we evaluated social interaction reward using a conditioned place preference (CPP) paradigm in adolescent male and female mice. Adolescent mice of both sexes exhibited a preference for the social interaction-associated context. Chronic unpredictable stress (CUS) impaired the development of CPP for social interaction, mimicking social anhedonia in depressed adolescents. Conversely, administration of leptin, an adipocyte-derived hormone, enhanced social interaction-induced CPP in non-stressed control mice and reversed social anhedonia in CUS mice. By dissecting the motivational processes of social CPP into social approach and isolation avoidance components, we demonstrated that leptin treatment increased isolation aversion without overt social reward effect. Further mechanistic exploration revealed that leptin stimulated oxytocin gene transcription in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, while oxytocin receptor blockade abolished the leptin-induced enhancement of socially-induced CPP. These results establish that chronic unpredictable stress can be used to study social anhedonia in adolescent mice and provide evidence that leptin modulates social motivation possibly via increasing oxytocin synthesis and oxytocin receptor activation.
We investigated whether extracellular RNA communication, which is a recently discovered mode of intercellular communication that is involved in a variety of important biological processes including pregnancy, is associated with postpartum depression (PPD). Extracellular RNA communication is increased during pregnancy and is involved in embryo implantation, uterine spiral artery remodeling, parturition, preterm birth, immunity, and the inflammatory response. Since immune anomalies are associated with PPD, we characterized the mRNA content of extracellular vesicles (EV) in a cohort of prospectively collected blood plasma samples at six time-points throughout pregnancy and the postpartum (2nd trimester, 3rd trimester, 2 weeks postpartum, 6 weeks postpartum, 3 months postpartum, and 6 months postpartum) in an academic medical setting from women who went on to develop PPD (N = 7, defined as euthymic in pregnancy with postpartum-onset depressive symptoms assessed by Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale ≥13 at any postpartum time point) and matched unaffected controls (N = 7, defined as euthymic throughout pregnancy and postpartum). Blood samples were available for all participants at the T2 and W6 timepoints, with fewer samples available at other time points. This analysis revealed that EV mRNA levels during pregnancy and the postpartum period were extensively altered in women who went on to develop PPD. Gene set enrichment analysis revealed that mRNAs associated with autophagy were decreased in PPD cases. In contrast, EV mRNAs from ribosomes and mitochondria, two organelles that are selectively targeted by autophagy, were elevated in PPD cases. Cellular deconvolution analysis discovered that EV mRNAs associated with PPD originated from monocytes and macrophages. Quantitative PCR analysis for four relevant genes in another cohort replicated these findings and confirmed that extracellular RNA levels are altered in PPD. We demonstrate that EV mRNA communication is robustly altered during pregnancy and the postpartum period in women who go on to develop PPD. Our work also establishes a direct link between reduced autophagy and PPD in patient samples. These data warrant investigating the feasibility of developing EV mRNA based biomarkers and therapeutic agents for PPD.
As a prime mover in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), microglial activation requires membrane translocation, integration, and activation of the metamorphic protein chloride intracellular channel 1 (CLIC1), which is primarily cytoplasmic under physiological conditions. However, the formation and activation mechanisms of functional CLIC1 are unknown. Here, we found that the human antimicrobial peptide (AMP) LL-37 promoted CLIC1 membrane translocation and integration. It also activates CLIC1 to cause microglial hyperactivation, neuroinflammation, and excitotoxicity. In mouse and monkey models, LL-37 caused significant pathological phenotypes linked to AD, including elevated amyloid-β, increased neurofibrillary tangles, enhanced neuronal death and brain atrophy, enlargement of lateral ventricles, and impairment of synaptic plasticity and cognition, while Clic1 knockout and blockade of LL-37-CLIC1 interactions inhibited these phenotypes. Given AD’s association with infection and that overloading AMP may exacerbate AD, this study suggests that LL-37, which is up-regulated upon infection, may be a driving force behind AD by acting as an endogenous agonist of CLIC1.
People with mood disorders have increased risk of comorbid medical diseases versus the general population. It is paramount to identify interventions to improve physical health in this population.
Umbrella review of meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) on pharmacological/non-pharmacological interventions for physical health outcomes/intolerability-related discontinuation in mood disorders (any age).
Ninety-seven meta-analyses were included. Among youths, against placebo, in depression, antidepressants/antipsychotics had higher discontinuation rates; in bipolar depression, olanzapine+fluoxetine worsened total cholesterol (TC)/triglycerides/weight gain (WG) (large ES). In adults with bipolar disorder, olanzapine worsened HbA1c/TC/WG (moderate/large ES); asenapine increased fasting glucose (small ES); quetiapine/cariprazine/risperidone induced WG (small/moderate ES). In bipolar depression, lurasidone was metabolically neutral. In depression, psychological interventions improved physical health-related quality of life (PHQoL) (small ES), fasting glucose/HbA1c (medium/large ES); SSRIs improved fasting glucose/HbA1c, readmission for coronary disease, pain (small ES); quetiapine/aripiprazole/olanzapine induced WG (small to large ES). Exercise improved cardiorespiratory fitness (moderate ES). In the elderly, fluoxetine yielded more detrimental cardiovascular effects than sertraline/escitalopram (large ES); antidepressants were neutral on exercise tolerance and PHQoL. In mixed age groups, in bipolar disorder aripiprazole was metabolically neutral; in depression, SSRIs lowered blood pressure versus placebo and serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (small ES); brexpiprazole augmentation caused WG and was less tolerated (small ES); exercise improved PHQoL (moderate ES).
Some interventions (psychological therapies, exercise and SSRIs) improve certain physical health outcomes in mood disorders, few are neutral, but various pharmacological interventions are associated with negative effects. Evidence from this umbrella review has limitations, should consider evidence from other disorders and should be integrated with recent evidence from individual RCTs, and observational evidence. Effective treatments with either beneficial or physically neutral profiles should be prioritized.
Polygenic risk prediction remains an important aim of genetic association studies. Currently, the predictive power of schizophrenia polygenic risk scores (PRSs) is not large enough to allow highly accurate discrimination between cases and controls and thus is not adequate for clinical integration. Since PRSs are rarely used to reveal biological functions or to validate candidate pathways, to fill this gap, we investigated whether their predictive ability could be improved by building genome-wide (GW-PRSs) and pathway-specific PRSs, using distance- or expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs)- based mapping between genetic variants and genes. We focused on five pathways (glutamate, oxidative stress, GABA/interneurons, neuroimmune/neuroinflammation and myelin) which belong to a critical hub of schizophrenia pathophysiology, centred on redox dysregulation/oxidative stress. Analyses were first performed in the Lausanne Treatment and Early Intervention in Psychosis Program (TIPP) study (n = 340, cases/controls: 208/132), a sample of first-episode of psychosis patients and matched controls, and then validated in an independent study, the epidemiological and longitudinal intervention program of First-Episode Psychosis in Cantabria (PAFIP) (n = 352, 224/128). Our results highlighted two main findings. First, GW-PRSs for schizophrenia were significantly associated with early psychosis status. Second, oxidative stress was the only significantly associated pathway that showed an enrichment in both the TIPP (p = 0.03) and PAFIP samples (p = 0.002), and exclusively when gene-variant linking was done using eQTLs. The results suggest that the predictive accuracy of polygenic risk scores could be improved with the inclusion of information from functional annotations, and through a focus on specific pathways, emphasizing the need to build and study functionally informed risk scores.
A range of studies suggest that a proportion of psychosis may have an autoimmune basis, but this has not translated through into clinical practice—there is no biochemical test able to accurately identify psychosis resulting from an underlying inflammatory cause. Such a test would be an important step towards identifying who might require different treatments and have the potential to improve outcomes for patients. To identify novel subgroups within patients with acute psychosis we measured the serum nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) metabolite profiles of 75 patients who had identified antibodies (anti-glycine receptor [GlyR], voltage-gated potassium channel [VGKC], Contactin-associated protein-like 2 [CASPR2], leucine-rich glioma inactivated 1 [LGI1], N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor [NMDAR] antibody) and 70 antibody negative patients matched for age, gender, and ethnicity. Clinical symptoms were assessed using the positive and negative syndrome scale (PANSS). Unsupervised principal component analysis identified two distinct biochemical signatures within the cohort. Orthogonal partial least squared discriminatory analysis revealed that the serum metabolomes of NMDAR, LGI1, and CASPR2 antibody psychosis patients were indistinct from the antibody negative control group while VGKC and GlyR antibody patients had significantly decreased lipoprotein fatty acids and increased amino acid concentrations. Furthermore, these patients had more severe presentation with higher PANSS scores than either the antibody negative controls or the NMDAR, LGI1, and CASPR2 antibody groups. These results suggest that a proportion of patients with acute psychosis have a distinct clinical and biochemical phenotype that may indicate an inflammatory subtype.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a heritable (h² = 24–71%) psychiatric illness. Copy number variation (CNV) is a form of rare genetic variation that has been implicated in the etiology of psychiatric disorders, but no large-scale investigation of CNV in PTSD has been performed. We present an association study of CNV burden and PTSD symptoms in a sample of 114,383 participants (13,036 cases and 101,347 controls) of European ancestry. CNVs were called using two calling algorithms and intersected to a consensus set. Quality control was performed to remove strong outlier samples. CNVs were examined for association with PTSD within each cohort using linear or logistic regression analysis adjusted for population structure and CNV quality metrics, then inverse variance weighted meta-analyzed across cohorts. We examined the genome-wide total span of CNVs, enrichment of CNVs within specified gene-sets, and CNVs overlapping individual genes and implicated neurodevelopmental regions. The total distance covered by deletions crossing over known neurodevelopmental CNV regions was significant (beta = 0.029, SE = 0.005, P = 6.3 × 10⁻⁸). The genome-wide neurodevelopmental CNV burden identified explains 0.034% of the variation in PTSD symptoms. The 15q11.2 BP1-BP2 microdeletion region was significantly associated with PTSD (beta = 0.0206, SE = 0.0056, P = 0.0002). No individual significant genes interrupted by CNV were identified. 22 gene pathways related to the function of the nervous system and brain were significant in pathway analysis (FDR q < 0.05), but these associations were not significant once NDD regions were removed. A larger sample size, better detection methods, and annotated resources of CNV are needed to explore this relationship further.
Although the link of white matter to pathophysiology of schizophrenia is documented, loss of myelin is not detected in patients at the early stages of the disease, suggesting that pathological evolution of schizophrenia may occur before significant myelin loss. Disrupted-in-schizophrenia-1 (DISC1) protein is highly expressed in oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) and regulates their maturation. Recently, DISC1-Δ3, a major DISC1 variant that lacks exon 3, has been identified in schizophrenia patients, although its pathological significance remains unknown. In this study, we detected in schizophrenia patients a previously unidentified pathological phenotype of OPCs exhibiting excessive branching. We replicated this phenotype by generating a mouse strain expressing DISC1-Δ3 gene in OPCs. We further demonstrated that pathological OPCs, rather than myelin defects, drive the onset of schizophrenic phenotype by hyperactivating OPCs' Wnt/β-catenin pathway, which consequently upregulates Wnt Inhibitory Factor 1 (Wif1), leading to the aberrant synaptic formation and neuronal activity. Suppressing Wif1 in OPCs rescues synaptic loss and behavioral disorders in DISC1-Δ3 mice. Our findings reveal the pathogenetic role of OPC-specific DISC1-Δ3 variant in the onset of schizophrenia and highlight the therapeutic potential of Wif1 as an alternative target for the treatment of this disease.
Mitochondrial DNA variants have previously associated with disease, but the underlying mechanisms have been largely elusive. Here, we report that mitochondrial SNP rs2853499 associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), neuroimaging, and transcriptomics. We mapped rs2853499 to a novel mitochondrial small open reading frame called SHMOOSE with microprotein encoding potential. Indeed, we detected two unique SHMOOSE-derived peptide fragments in mitochondria by using mass spectrometry—the first unique mass spectrometry-based detection of a mitochondrial-encoded microprotein to date. Furthermore, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) SHMOOSE levels in humans correlated with age, CSF tau, and brain white matter volume. We followed up on these genetic and biochemical findings by carrying out a series of functional experiments. SHMOOSE acted on the brain following intracerebroventricular administration, differentiated mitochondrial gene expression in multiple models, localized to mitochondria, bound the inner mitochondrial membrane protein mitofilin, and boosted mitochondrial oxygen consumption. Altogether, SHMOOSE has vast implications for the fields of neurobiology, Alzheimer’s disease, and microproteins.
Excessive fear is a hallmark of anxiety disorders, a major cause of disease burden worldwide. Substantial evidence supports a role of prefrontal cortex-amygdala circuits in the regulation of fear and anxiety, but the molecular mechanisms that regulate their activity remain poorly understood. Here, we show that downregulation of the histone methyltransferase PRDM2 in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex enhances fear expression by modulating fear memory consolidation. We further show that Prdm2 knock-down (KD) in neurons that project from the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex to the basolateral amygdala (dmPFC-BLA) promotes increased fear expression. Prdm2 KD in the dmPFC-BLA circuit also resulted in increased expression of genes involved in synaptogenesis, suggesting that Prdm2 KD modulates consolidation of conditioned fear by modifying synaptic strength at dmPFC-BLA projection targets. Consistent with an enhanced synaptic efficacy, we found that dmPFC Prdm2 KD increased glutamatergic release probability in the BLA and increased the activity of BLA neurons in response to fear-associated cues. Together, our findings provide a new molecular mechanism for excessive fear responses, wherein PRDM2 modulates the dmPFC -BLA circuit through specific transcriptomic changes.
Freezing is a conserved defensive behaviour that constitutes a major stress-coping mechanism. Decades of research have demonstrated a role of the amygdala, periaqueductal grey and hypothalamus as core actuators of the control of fear responses, including freezing. However, the role that other modulatory sites provide to this hardwired scaffold is not known. Here, we show that freezing elicited by exposure to electrical foot shocks activates laterodorsal tegmentum (LDTg) GABAergic neurons projecting to the VTA, without altering the excitability of cholinergic and glutamatergic LDTg neurons. Selective chemogenetic silencing of this inhibitory projection, but not other LDTg neuronal subtypes, dampens freezing responses but does not prevent the formation of conditioned fear memories. Conversely, optogenetic-activation of LDTg GABA terminals within the VTA drives freezing responses and elicits bradycardia, a common hallmark of freezing. Notably, this aversive information is subsequently conveyed from the VTA to the amygdala via a discrete GABAergic pathway. Hence, we unveiled a circuit mechanism linking LDTg-VTA-amygdala regions, which holds potential translational relevance for pathological freezing states such as post-traumatic stress disorders, panic attacks and social phobias.
Evidence suggests that spironolactone, a nonselective mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) antagonist, modulates alcohol seeking and consumption. Therefore, spironolactone may represent a novel pharmacotherapy for alcohol use disorder (AUD). In this study, we tested the effects of spironolactone in a mouse model of alcohol drinking (drinking-in-the-dark) and in a rat model of alcohol dependence (vapor exposure). We also investigated the association between spironolactone receipt for at least 60 continuous days and change in self-reported alcohol consumption, using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C), in a pharmacoepidemiologic cohort study in the largest integrated healthcare system in the US. Spironolactone dose-dependently reduced the intake of sweetened or unsweetened alcohol solutions in male and female mice. No effects of spironolactone were observed on drinking of a sweet solution without alcohol, food or water intake, motor coordination, alcohol-induced ataxia, or blood alcohol levels. Spironolactone dose-dependently reduced operant alcohol self-administration in dependent and nondependent male and female rats. In humans, a greater reduction in alcohol consumption was observed among those who received spironolactone, compared to propensity score-matched individuals who did not receive spironolactone. The largest effects were among those who reported hazardous/heavy episodic alcohol consumption at baseline (AUDIT-C ≥ 8) and those exposed to ≥ 50 mg/day of spironolactone. These convergent findings across rodent and human studies demonstrate that spironolactone reduces alcohol use and support the hypothesis that this medication may be further studied as a novel pharmacotherapy for AUD.
The precise development of the neocortex is a prerequisite for higher cognitive and associative functions. Despite numerous advances that have been made in understanding neuronal differentiation and cortex development, our knowledge regarding the impact of specific genes associated with neurodevelopmental disorders on these processes is still limited. Here, we show that Taok2, which is encoded in humans within the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) susceptibility locus 16p11.2, is essential for neuronal migration. Overexpression of de novo mutations or rare variants from ASD patients disrupts neuronal migration in an isoform-specific manner. The mutated TAOK2α variants but not the TAOK2β variants impaired neuronal migration. Moreover, the TAOK2α isoform colocalizes with microtubules. Consequently, neurons lacking Taok2 have unstable microtubules with reduced levels of acetylated tubulin and phosphorylated JNK1. Mice lacking Taok2 develop gross cortical and cortex layering abnormalities. Moreover, acute Taok2 downregulation or Taok2 knockout delayed the migration of upper-layer cortical neurons in mice, and the expression of a constitutively active form of JNK1 rescued these neuronal migration defects. Finally, we report that the brains of the Taok2 KO and 16p11.2 del Het mouse models show striking anatomical similarities and that the heterozygous 16p11.2 microdeletion mouse model displayed reduced levels of phosphorylated JNK1 and neuronal migration deficits, which were ameliorated upon the introduction of TAOK2α in cortical neurons and in the developing cortex of those mice. These results delineate the critical role of TAOK2 in cortical development and its contribution to neurodevelopmental disorders, including ASD.
Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), the prototypic severe childhood speech disorder, is characterized by motor programming and planning deficits. Genetic factors make substantive contributions to CAS aetiology, with a monogenic pathogenic variant identified in a third of cases, implicating around 20 single genes to date. Here we aimed to identify molecular causation in 70 unrelated probands ascertained with CAS. We performed trio genome sequencing. Our bioinformatic analysis examined single nucleotide, indel, copy number, structural and short tandem repeat variants. We prioritised appropriate variants arising de novo or inherited that were expected to be damaging based on in silico predictions. We identified high confidence variants in 18/70 (26%) probands, almost doubling the current number of candidate genes for CAS. Three of the 18 variants affected SETBP1, SETD1A and DDX3X, thus confirming their roles in CAS, while the remaining 15 occurred in genes not previously associated with this disorder. Fifteen variants arose de novo and three were inherited. We provide further novel insights into the biology of child speech disorder, highlighting the roles of chromatin organization and gene regulation in CAS, and confirm that genes involved in CAS are co-expressed during brain development. Our findings confirm a diagnostic yield comparable to, or even higher, than other neurodevelopmental disorders with substantial de novo variant burden. Data also support the increasingly recognised overlaps between genes conferring risk for a range of neurodevelopmental disorders. Understanding the aetiological basis of CAS is critical to end the diagnostic odyssey and ensure affected individuals are poised for precision medicine trials.
Exaggerated startle has been recognized as a core hyperarousal symptom of multiple fear-related anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and panic disorder. However, the mechanisms driving this symptom are poorly understood. Here we reveal a neural projection from dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) to a startle-controlling center reticulotegmental nucleus (RtTg) that mediates enhanced startle response under fear condition. Within RtTg, we identify an inhibitory microcircuit comprising GABAergic neurons in pericentral RtTg (RtTgP) and glutamatergic neurons in central RtTg (RtTgC). Inhibition of this RtTgP-RtTgC microcircuit leads to elevated startle amplitudes. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the conditioned fear-activated DRN 5-HTergic neurons send inhibitory projections to RtTgP GABAergic neurons, which in turn upregulate neuronal activities of RtTgC glutamatergic neurons. Chemogenetic activation of the DRN-RtTgP projections mimics the increased startle response under fear emotions. Moreover, conditional deletion of 5-HT1B receptor from RtTgP GABAergic neurons largely reverses the exaggeration of startle during conditioned fear. Thus, our study establishes the disinhibitory DRN-RtTgP-RtTgC circuit as a critical mechanism underlying exaggerated startle under fear emotions, and provides 5-HT1B receptor as a potential therapeutic target for treating hyperarousal symptom in fear-associated psychiatric disorders.
Virtually all neuropsychiatric disorders display sex differences in prevalence, age of onset, and/or clinical symptomology. Although altered dopamine (DA) signaling is a feature of many of these disorders, sex-dependent mechanisms uniquely responsive to DA that drive sex-dependent behaviors remain unelucidated. Previously, we established that anomalous DA efflux (ADE) is a prominent feature of the DA transporter (DAT) variant Val559, a coding substitution identified in two male-biased disorders: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder. In vivo, Val559 ADE induces activation of nigrostriatal D2-type DA autoreceptors (D2ARs) that magnifies inappropriate, nonvesicular DA release by elevating phosphorylation and surface trafficking of ADE-prone DAT proteins. Here we demonstrate that DAT Val559 mice exhibit sex-dependent alterations in psychostimulant responses, social behavior, and cognitive performance. In a search for underlying mechanisms, we discovered that the ability of ADE to elicit D2AR regulation of DAT is both sex and circuit-dependent, with dorsal striatum D2AR/DAT coupling evident only in males, whereas D2AR/DAT coupling in the ventral striatum is exclusive to females. Moreover, systemic administration of the D2R antagonist sulpiride, which precludes ADE-driven DAT trafficking, can normalize DAT Val559 behavioral changes unique to each sex and without effects on the opposite sex or wildtype mice. Our studies support the sex- and circuit dependent capacity of D2ARs to regulate DAT as a critical determinant of the sex-biased effects of perturbed DA signaling in neurobehavioral disorders. Moreover, our work provides a cogent example of how a shared biological insult drives alternative physiological and behavioral trajectories as opposed to resilience.
The locus coeruleus (LC) in the brainstem as the main regulator of brain noradrenaline gains increasing attention because of its involvement in neurologic and psychiatric diseases and its relevance in general to brain function. In this study, we created a structural connectome of the LC nerve fibers based on in vivo MRI tractography to gain an understanding into LC connectivity and its impact on LC-related psychological measures. We combined our structural results with ultra-high field resting-state functional MRI to learn about the relationship between in vivo LC structural and functional connections. Importantly, we reveal that LC brain fibers are strongly associated with psychological measures of anxiety and alertness indicating that LC-noradrenergic connectivity may have an important role on brain function. Lastly, since we analyzed all our data in subject-specific space, we point out the potential of structural LC connectivity to reveal individual characteristics of LC-noradrenergic function on the single-subject level.
The significant link between stress and psychiatric disorders has prompted research on stress’s impact on the brain. Interestingly, previous studies on healthy subjects have demonstrated an association between perceived stress and amygdala volume, although the mechanisms by which perceived stress can affect brain function remain unknown. To better understand what this association entails at a functional level, herein, we explore the association of perceived stress, measured by the PSS10 questionnaire, with disseminated functional connectivity between brain areas. Using resting-state fMRI from 252 healthy subjects spanning a broad age range, we performed both a seed-based amygdala connectivity analysis (static connectivity, with spatial resolution but no temporal definition) and a whole-brain data-driven approach to detect altered patterns of phase interactions between brain areas (dynamic connectivity with spatiotemporal information). Results show that increased perceived stress is directly associated with increased amygdala connectivity with frontal cortical regions, which is driven by a reduced occurrence of an activity pattern where the signals in the amygdala and the hippocampus evolve in opposite directions with respect to the rest of the brain. Overall, these results not only reinforce the pathological effect of in-phase synchronicity between subcortical and cortical brain areas but also demonstrate the protective effect of counterbalanced (i.e., phase-shifted) activity between brain subsystems, which are otherwise missed with correlation-based functional connectivity analysis.
NMDA receptors have essential roles in the physiology of central excitatory synapses and their dysfunction causes severe neuropsychiatric symptoms. Recently, a series of genetic variants have been identified in patients, however, functional information about these variants is sparse and their role in pathogenesis insufficiently known. Here we investigate the mechanism by which two GluN2A variants may be pathogenic. We use molecular dynamics simulation and single-molecule electrophysiology to examine the contribution of GluN2A subunit-residues, P552 and F652, and their pathogenic substitutions, P552R and F652V, affect receptor functions. We found that P552 and F652 interact during the receptors’ normal activity cycle; the interaction stabilizes receptors in open conformations and is required for a normal electrical response. Engineering shorter side-chains at these positions (P552A and/or F652V) caused a loss of interaction energy and produced receptors with severe gating, conductance, and permeability deficits. In contrast, the P552R side chain resulted in stronger interaction and produced a distinct, yet still drastically abnormal electrical response. These results identify the dynamic contact between P552 and F652 as a critical step in the NMDA receptor activation, and show that both increased and reduced communication through this interaction cause dysfunction. Results show that subtle differences in NMDA receptor primary structure can generate complex phenotypic alterations whose binary classification is too simplistic to serve as a therapeutic guide.
Schizophrenia is a polygenic psychiatric disorder with limited understanding about the mechanistic changes in gene expression regulation. To elucidate on this, we integrate interindividual variability of regulatory activity (ChIP-sequencing for H3K27ac histone mark) with gene expression and genotype data captured from the prefrontal cortex of 272 cases and controls. By measuring interindividual correlation among proximal chromatin peaks, we show that regulatory element activity is structured into 10,936 and 10,376 cis-regulatory domains in cases and controls, respectively. The schizophrenia-specific cis-regulatory domains are enriched for fetal-specific (p = 0.0014, OR = 1.52) and depleted of adult-specific regulatory activity (p = 3.04 × 10⁻⁵⁰, OR = 0.57) and are enriched for SCZ heritability (p = 0.001). By studying the interplay among genetic variants, gene expression, and cis-regulatory domains, we ascertain that changes in coordinated regulatory activity tag alterations in gene expression levels (p = 3.43 × 10⁻⁵, OR = 1.65), unveil case-specific QTL effects, and identify regulatory machinery changes for genes affecting synaptic function and dendritic spine morphology in schizophrenia. Altogether, we show that accounting for coordinated regulatory activity provides a novel mechanistic approach to reduce the search space for unveiling genetically perturbed regulation of gene expression in schizophrenia.
Stress-related psychiatric disorders such as depression are among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality. Considering that many individuals fail to respond to currently available antidepressant drugs, there is a need for antidepressants with novel mechanisms. Polymorphisms in the gene encoding FK506-binding protein 51 (FKBP51), a co-chaperone of the glucocorticoid receptor, have been linked to susceptibility to stress-related psychiatric disorders. Whether this protein can be targeted for their treatment remains largely unexplored. The aim of this work was to investigate whether inhibition of FKBP51 with SAFit2, a novel selective inhibitor, promotes hippocampal neuron outgrowth and neurogenesis in vitro and stress resilience in vivo in a mouse model of chronic psychosocial stress. Primary hippocampal neuronal cultures or hippocampal neural progenitor cells (NPCs) were treated with SAFit2 and neuronal differentiation and cell proliferation were analyzed. Male C57BL/6 mice were administered SAFit2 while concurrently undergoing a chronic stress paradigm comprising of intermittent social defeat and overcrowding, and anxiety and depressive -related behaviors were evaluated. SAFit2 increased neurite outgrowth and number of branch points to a greater extent than brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in primary hippocampal neuronal cultures. SAFit2 increased hippocampal NPC neurogenesis and increased neurite complexity and length of these differentiated neurons. In vivo, chronic SAFit2 administration prevented stress-induced social avoidance, decreased anxiety in the novelty-induced hypophagia test, and prevented stress-induced anxiety in the open field but did not alter adult hippocampal neurogenesis in stressed animals. These data warrant further exploration of inhibition of FKBP51 as a strategy to treat stress-related disorders.
Acute stress triggers plasticity of forebrain synapses as well as behavioral changes. Here we reveal that Tumor Necrosis Factor α (TNF) is a required downstream mediator of the stress response in mice, necessary for stress-induced synaptic potentiation in the ventral hippocampus and for an increase in anxiety-like behaviour. Acute stress is sufficient to activate microglia, triggering the long-term release of TNF. Critically, on-going TNF signaling specifically in the ventral hippocampus is necessary to sustain both the stress-induced synaptic and behavioral changes, as these could be reversed hours after induction by antagonizing TNF signaling. This demonstrates that TNF maintains the synaptic and behavioral stress response in vivo, making TNF a potential novel therapeutic target for stress disorders.
Depressive disorders are the most burdensome psychiatric disorders worldwide. Although huge efforts have been made to advance treatment, outcomes remain unsatisfactory. Many factors contribute to this gridlock including suboptimal animal models. Especially limited study comparability and replicability due to imprecise terminology concerning depressive-like states are major problems. To overcome these issues, new approaches are needed. Here, we introduce a taxonomical concept for modelling depression in laboratory mice, which we call depression-like syndrome (DLS). It hinges on growing evidence suggesting that mice possess advanced socioemotional abilities and can display non-random symptom patterns indicative of an evolutionary conserved disorder-like phenotype. The DLS approach uses a combined heuristic method based on clinical depression criteria and the Research Domain Criteria to provide a biobehavioural reference syndrome for preclinical rodent models of depression. The DLS criteria are based on available, species-specific evidence and are as follows: (I) minimum duration of phenotype, (II) significant sociofunctional impairment, (III) core biological features, (IV) necessary depressive-like symptoms. To assess DLS presence and severity, we have designed an algorithm to ensure statistical and biological relevance of findings. The algorithm uses a minimum combined threshold for statistical significance and effect size (p value ≤ 0.05 plus moderate effect size) for each DLS criterion. Taken together, the DLS is a novel, biologically founded, and species-specific minimum threshold approach. Its long-term objective is to gradually develop into an inter-model validation standard and microframework to improve phenotyping methodology in translational research.
Members of the Shank protein family are master scaffolds of the postsynaptic architecture and mutations within the SHANK genes are causally associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). We generated a Shank2-Shank3 double knockout mouse that is showing severe autism related core symptoms, as well as a broad spectrum of comorbidities. We exploited this animal model to identify cortical brain areas linked to specific autistic traits by locally deleting Shank2 and Shank3 simultaneously. Our screening of 10 cortical subregions revealed that a Shank2/3 deletion within the retrosplenial area severely impairs social memory, a core symptom of ASD. Notably, DREADD-mediated neuronal activation could rescue the social impairment triggered by Shank2/3 depletion. Data indicate that the retrosplenial area has to be added to the list of defined brain regions that contribute to the spectrum of behavioural alterations seen in ASDs.
Patients with schizophrenia have consistently shown brain volumetric abnormalities, implicating both etiological and pathological processes. However, the genetic relationship between schizophrenia and brain volumetric abnormalities remains poorly understood. Here, we applied novel statistical genetic approaches (MiXeR and conjunctional false discovery rate analysis) to investigate genetic overlap with mixed effect directions using independent genome-wide association studies of schizophrenia (n = 130,644) and brain volumetric phenotypes, including subcortical brain and intracranial volumes (n = 33,735). We found brain volumetric phenotypes share substantial genetic variants (74–96%) with schizophrenia, and observed 107 distinct shared loci with sign consistency in independent samples. Genes mapped by shared loci revealed (1) significant enrichment in neurodevelopmental biological processes, (2) three co-expression clusters with peak expression at the prenatal stage, and (3) genetically imputed thalamic expression of CRHR1 and ARL17A was associated with the thalamic volume as early as in childhood. Together, our findings provide evidence of shared genetic architecture between schizophrenia and brain volumetric phenotypes and suggest that altered early neurodevelopmental processes and brain development in childhood may be involved in schizophrenia development.
Despite the substantial heritability of antisocial behavior (ASB), specific genetic variants robustly associated with the trait have not been identified. The present study by the Broad Antisocial Behavior Consortium (BroadABC) meta-analyzed data from 28 discovery samples (N = 85,359) and five independent replication samples (N = 8,058) with genotypic data and broad measures of ASB. We identified the first significant genetic associations with broad ASB, involving common intronic variants in the forkhead box protein P2 (FOXP2) gene (lead SNP rs12536335, P = 6.32 x 10-10). Furthermore, we observed intronic variation in Foxp2 and one of its targets (Cntnap2) distinguishing a mouse model of pathological aggression (BALB/cJ strain) from controls (BALB/cByJ strain). Polygenic-risk-score (PRS) analyses in independent samples revealed that the genetic risk for ASB was associated with several antisocial outcomes across the lifespan, including diagnosis of conduct disorder, official criminal convictions, and trajectories of antisocial development. We found substantial genetic correlations of ASB with mental health (depression rg=0.63, insomnia rg = 0.47), physical health (overweight rg = 0.19, waist-to-hip ratio rg = 0.32), smoking (rg=0.54), cognitive ability (intelligence rg= -0.40), educational attainment (years of schooling rg = -0.46) and reproductive traits (age at first birth rg=-0.58, father’s age at death rg= -0.54). Our findings provide a starting point towards identifying critical biosocial risk mechanisms for the development of ASB.
Positive effects of alcohol drinking such as anxiolysis and euphoria appear to be a crucial factor in the initiation and maintenance of alcohol use disorder (AUD). However, the mechanisms that lead from chromatin reorganization to transcriptomic changes after acute ethanol exposure remain unknown. Here, we used Assay for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin followed by high throughput sequencing (ATAC-seq) and RNA-seq to investigate epigenomic and transcriptomic changes that underlie anxiolytic effects of acute ethanol using an animal model. Analysis of ATAC-seq data revealed an overall open or permissive chromatin state that was associated with transcriptomic changes in the amygdala after acute ethanol exposure. We identified a candidate gene, Hif3a (Hypoxia-inducible factor 3, alpha subunit), that had ‘open’ chromatin regions (ATAC-seq peaks), associated with significantly increased active epigenetic histone acetylation marks and decreased DNA methylation at these regions. The mRNA levels of Hif3a were increased by acute ethanol exposure, but decreased in the amygdala during withdrawal after chronic ethanol exposure. Knockdown of Hif3a expression in the central nucleus of amygdala attenuated acute ethanol-induced increases in Hif3a mRNA levels and blocked anxiolysis in rats. These data indicate that chromatin accessibility and transcriptomic signatures in the amygdala after acute ethanol exposure underlie anxiolysis and possibly prime the chromatin for the development of AUD.
Alcohol-use-disorders are chronic relapsing illnesses, often co-morbid with anxiety. We have previously shown using the “drinking-in-the-dark” model in mice that the stimulation of the serotonin receptor 1A (5-HT1A) reduces ethanol binge-drinking behaviour and withdrawal-induced anxiety. The 5-HT1A receptor is located either on Raphe neurons as autoreceptors, or on target neurons as heteroreceptors. By combining a pharmacological approach with biased agonists targeting the 5-HT1A auto- or heteroreceptor and a chemogenetic approach (DREADDs), here we identified that ethanol-binge drinking behaviour is dependent on 5-HT1A autoreceptors and 5-HT neuronal function, with a transition from DRN-dependent regulation of short-term (6 weeks) ethanol intake, to MRN-dependent regulation after longer ethanol exposure (12 weeks). We further identified a serotonergic microcircuit (5-HT MRN->DG) originating from the MRN and projecting to the dentate gyrus (DG) of the hippocampus, that is specifically affected by, and modulates long-term ethanol consumption. The present study indicates that targeting Raphe nuclei 5-HT1A autoreceptors with agonists might represent an innovative pharmacotherapeutic strategy to combat alcohol abuse.
Prefrontal cortex (PFC) is a site of information convergence important for behaviors relevant to psychiatric disorders. Despite the importance of inhibitory GABAergic parvalbumin-expressing (PV+) interneurons to PFC circuit function and decades of interest in N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) in these neurons, examples of defined circuit functions that depend on PV+ interneuron NMDARs have been elusive. Indeed, it remains controversial whether all PV+ interneurons contain functional NMDARs in adult PFC, which has major consequences for hypotheses of the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders. Using a combination of fluorescent in situ hybridization, pathway-specific optogenetics, cell-type-specific gene ablation, and electrophysiological recordings from PV+ interneurons, here we resolve this controversy. We found that nearly 100% of PV+ interneurons in adult medial PFC (mPFC) express transcripts encoding GluN1 and GluN2B, and they have functional NMDARs. By optogenetically stimulating corticocortical and thalamocortical inputs to mPFC, we show that synaptic NMDAR contribution to PV+ interneuron EPSCs is pathway-specific, which likely explains earlier reports of PV+ interneurons without synaptic NMDAR currents. Lastly, we report a major contribution of NMDARs in PV+ interneurons to thalamus-mediated feedforward inhibition in adult mPFC circuits, suggesting molecular and circuit-based mechanisms for cognitive impairment under conditions of reduced NMDAR function. These findings represent an important conceptual advance that has major implications for hypotheses of the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders.
The neural orphan G protein coupled receptor GPR88 is predominant in the striatum and cortex of both rodents and humans, and considered a potential target for brain disorders. Previous studies have shown multiple behavioral phenotypes in Gpr88 knockout mice, and human genetic studies have reported association with psychosis. Here we tested the possibility that GPR88 contributes to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In the mouse, we tested Gpr88 knockout mice in three behavioral paradigms, best translatable between rodents and humans, and found higher motor impulsivity and reduced attention together with the reported hyperactivity. Atomoxetine, a typical ADHD drug, reduced impulsivity in mutant mice. Conditional Gpr88 knockout mice in either D1R-type or D2R-type medium spiny neurons revealed distinct implications of the two receptor populations in waiting and stopping impulsivity. Thus, animal data demonstrate that deficient GPR88 activity causally promotes ADHD-like behaviors, and identify circuit mechanisms underlying GPR88-regulated impulsivity. In humans, we performed a family-based genetic study including 567 nuclear families with DSM-IV diagnosis of ADHD. There was a minor association for SNP rs2036212 with diagnosis, treatment response and cognition. A stronger association was found for SNP rs2809817 upon patient stratification, suggesting that the T allele is a risk factor when prenatal stress is involved. Human data therefore identify GPR88 variants associated with the disease, and highlight a potential role of life trajectories to modulate GPR88 function. Overall, animal and human data concur to suggest that GPR88 signaling should be considered a key factor for diagnostic and treatment of ADHD. Mutant mouse behavior and human genetic data concur to suggest that the orphan receptor GPR88 contributes to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
Iron deficits have been reported as a risk factor for psychotic spectrum disorders (PSD). However, examinations of brain iron in PSD remain limited. The current study employed quantitative MRI to examine iron content in several iron-rich subcortical structures in 49 young adult individuals with PSD (15 schizophrenia, 17 schizoaffective disorder, and 17 bipolar disorder with psychotic features) compared with 35 age-matched healthy controls (HC). A parametric approach based on a two-pool magnetization transfer model was applied to estimate longitudinal relaxation rate (R1), which reflects both iron and myelin, and macromolecular proton fraction (MPF), which is specific to myelin. To describe iron content, a synthetic effective transverse relaxation rate (R2*) was modeled using a linear fitting of R1 and MPF. PSD patients compared to HC showed significantly reduced R1 and synthetic R2* across examined regions including the pallidum, ventral diencephalon, thalamus, and putamen areas. This finding was primarily driven by decreases in the subgroup with schizophrenia, followed by schizoaffective disorder. No significant group differences were noted for MPF between PSD and HC while for regional volume, significant reductions in patients were only observed in bilateral caudate, suggesting that R1 and synthetic R2* reductions in schizophrenia and schizoaffective patients likely reflect iron deficits that either occur independently or precede structural and myelin changes. Subcortical R1 and synthetic R2* were also found to be inversely related to positive symptoms within the PSD group and to schizotypal traits across the whole sample. These findings that decreased iron in subcortical regions are associated with PSD risk and symptomatology suggest that brain iron deficiencies may play a role in PSD pathology and warrant further study.
Identifying brain alterations associated with suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STBs) in young people is critical to understanding their development and improving early intervention and prevention. The ENIGMA Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviours (ENIGMA-STB) consortium analyzed neuroimaging data harmonized across sites to examine brain morphology associated with STBs in youth. We performed analyses in three separate stages, in samples ranging from most to least homogeneous in terms of suicide assessment instrument and mental disorder. First, in a sample of 577 young people with mood disorders, in which STBs were assessed with the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS). Second, in a sample of young people with mood disorders, in which STB were assessed using different instruments, MRI metrics were compared among healthy controls without STBs (HC; N = 519), clinical controls with a mood disorder but without STBs (CC; N = 246) and young people with current suicidal ideation (N = 223). In separate analyses, MRI metrics were compared among HCs (N = 253), CCs (N = 217), and suicide attempters (N = 64). Third, in a larger transdiagnostic sample with various assessment instruments (HC = 606; CC = 419; Ideation = 289; HC = 253; CC = 432; Attempt=91). In the homogeneous C-SSRS sample, surface area of the frontal pole was lower in young people with mood disorders and a history of actual suicide attempts (N = 163) than those without a lifetime suicide attempt (N = 323; FDR-p = 0.035, Cohen’s d = 0.34). No associations with suicidal ideation were found. When examining more heterogeneous samples, we did not observe significant associations. Lower frontal pole surface area may represent a vulnerability for a (non-interrupted and non-aborted) suicide attempt; however, more research is needed to understand the nature of its relationship to suicide risk.
Strategies to personalize psychopharmacological treatment promise to improve efficacy and tolerability. We measured serotonin transporter occupancy immediately after infusion of the widely prescribed P-glycoprotein substrate citalopram and assessed to what extent variants of the ABCB1 gene affect drug target engagement in the brain in vivo. A total of 79 participants (39 female) including 31 patients with major depression and 48 healthy volunteers underwent two PET/MRI scans with the tracer [¹¹C]DASB and placebo-controlled infusion of citalopram (8 mg) in a cross-over design. We tested the effect of six ABCB1 single nucleotide polymorphisms and found lower SERT occupancy in ABCB1 rs2235015 minor allele carriers (n = 26, MAF = 0.18) compared to major allele homozygotes (t73 = 2.73, pFWE < 0.05) as well as in men compared to women (t73 = 3.33, pFWE < 0.05). These effects were robust to correction for citalopram plasma concentration, age and diagnosis. From occupancy we derived the ratio of occupied to unoccupied SERT, because in theory this measure is equal to the product of drug affinity and concentration at target sites. A model combining genotype with basic clinical variables, predicted that, at the same dosage, occupied to unoccupied SERT ratio was −14.48 ± 5.38% lower in rs2235015 minor allele carriers, +19.10 ± 6.95% higher in women, −4.83 ± 2.70% lower per 10 kg bodyweight, and −2.68 ± 3.07% lower per 10 years of age. Our results support the exploration of clinical algorithms with adjustment of initial citalopram dosing and highlight the potential of imaging-genetics for precision pharmacotherapy in psychiatry.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the ventral anterior limb of the internal capsule (vALIC) is effective for refractory obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Retrospective evaluation showed that stimulation closer to the supero-lateral branch of the medial forebrain bundle (slMFB), within the vALIC, was associated with better response to DBS. The present study is the first to compare outcomes of DBS targeted at the vALIC using anatomical landmarks and DBS with connectomic tractography-based targeting of the slMFB. We included 20 OCD-patients with anatomical landmark-based DBS of the vALIC that were propensity score matched to 20 patients with tractography-based targeting of electrodes in the slMFB. After one year, we compared severity of OCD, anxiety and depression symptoms, response rates, time to response, number of parameter adjustments, average current, medication usage and stimulation-related adverse effects. There was no difference in Y-BOCS decrease between patients with anatomical landmark-based and tractography-based DBS. Nine (45%) patients with anatomical landmark-based DBS and 13 (65%) patients with tractography-based DBS were responders (BF10 = 1.24). The course of depression and anxiety symptoms, time to response, number of stimulation adjustments or medication usage did not differ between groups. Patients with tractography-based DBS experienced fewer stimulation-related adverse effects than patients with anatomical landmark-based DBS (38 vs 58 transient and 1 vs. 17 lasting adverse effects; BF10 = 14.968). OCD symptoms in patients with anatomical landmark-based DBS of the vALIC and tractography-based DBS of the slMFB decrease equally, but patients with tractography-based DBS experience less adverse effects.
Dementia is more prevalent in Blacks than in Whites, likely due to a combination of environmental and biological factors. Paradoxically, clinical studies suggest an attenuation of APOE ε4 risk of dementia in African ancestry (AFR), but a dearth of neuropathological data preclude the interpretation of the biological factors underlying these findings, including the association between APOE ε4 risk and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology, the most frequent cause of dementia. We investigated the interaction between African ancestry, AD-related neuropathology, APOE genotype, and functional cognition in a postmortem sample of 400 individuals with a range of AD pathology severity and lack of comorbid neuropathology from a cohort of community-dwelling, admixed Brazilians. Increasing proportions of African ancestry (AFR) correlated with a lower burden of neuritic plaques (NP). However, for individuals with a severe burden of NP and neurofibrillary tangles (NFT), AFR proportion was associated with worse Clinical Dementia Rating sum of boxes (CDR-SOB). Among APOE ε4 carriers, the association between AFR proportion and CDR-SOB disappeared. APOE local ancestry inference of a subset of 309 individuals revealed that, in APOE ε4 noncarriers, non-European APOE background correlated with lower NP burden and, also, worse cognitive outcomes than European APOE when adjusting by NP burden. Finally, APOE ε4 was associated with worse AD neuropathological burden only in a European APOE background. APOE genotype and its association with AD neuropathology and clinical pattern are highly influenced by ancestry, with AFR associated with lower NP burden and attenuated APOE ε4 risk compared to European ancestry.
Depression is disabling and highly prevalent. Intravenous (IV) ketamine displays rapid-onset antidepressant properties, but little is known regarding which patients are most likely to benefit, limiting personalized prescriptions. We identified randomized controlled trials of IV ketamine that recruited individuals with a relevant psychiatric diagnosis (e.g., unipolar or bipolar depression; post-traumatic stress disorder), included one or more control arms, did not provide any other study-administered treatment in conjunction with ketamine (although clinically prescribed concurrent treatments were allowable), and assessed outcome using either the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale or the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD-17). Individual patient-level data for at least one outcome was obtained from 17 of 25 eligible trials [pooled n = 809]. Rates of participant-level data availability across 33 moderators that were solicited from these 17 studies ranged from 10.8% to 100% (median = 55.6%). After data harmonization, moderators available in at least 40% of the dataset were tested sequentially, as well as with a data-driven, combined moderator approach. Robust main effects of ketamine on acute [~24-hours; β*(95% CI) = 0.58 (0.44, 0.72); p < 0.0001] and post-acute [~7 days; β*(95% CI) = 0.38 (0.23, 0.54); p < 0.0001] depression severity were observed. Two study-level moderators emerged as significant: ketamine effects (relative to placebo) were larger in studies that required a higher degree of previous treatment resistance to federal regulatory agency-approved antidepressant medications (≥2 failed trials) for study entry; and in studies that used a crossover design. A comprehensive data-driven search for combined moderators identified statistically significant, but modest and clinically uninformative, effects (effect size r ≤ 0.29, a small-medium effect). Ketamine robustly reduces depressive symptoms in a heterogeneous range of patients, with benefit relative to placebo even greater in patients more resistant to prior medications. In this largest effort to date to apply precision medicine approaches to ketamine treatment, no clinical or demographic patient-level features were detected that could be used to guide ketamine treatment decisions. Review Registration: PROSPERO Identifier: CRD42021235630 Molecular Psychiatry; https://doi.
Antipsychotic-induced metabolic syndrome (APs-induced Mets) is the most common adverse drug reaction, which affects more than 60% of the psychiatric patients. Although the etiology of APs-induced Mets has been extensively investigated, there is a lack of integrated analysis of the genetic and epigenetic factors. In this study, we performed genome-wide, whole-exome sequencing (WES) and epigenome-wide association studies in schizophrenia (SCZ) patients with or without APs-induced Mets to find the underlying mechanisms, followed by in vitro and in vivo functional validations. By population-based omics analysis, we revealed that rare functional variants across in the leptin and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) gene sets were imbalanced with rare functional variants across the APs-induced Mets and Non-Mets cohort. Besides, we discovered that APs-induced Mets are hypermethylated in ABCG1 (chr21:43642166–43642366, adjusted P < 0.05) than Non-Mets, and hypermethylation of this area was associated with higher TC (total cholesterol) and TG (triglycerides) levels in HepG2 cells. Candidate genes from omics studies were furtherly screened in C. elegans and 17 gene have been verified to associated with olanzapine (OLA) induced fat deposit. Among them, several genes were expressed differentially in Mets cohort and APs-induced in vitro/in vivo models compared to controls, demonstrating the validity of omics study. Overexpression one of the most significant gene, PTPN11, exhibited compromised glucose responses and insulin resistance. Pharmacologic inhibition of PTPN11 protected HepG2 cell from APs-induced insulin resistance. These findings provide important insights into our understanding of the mechanism of the APs-induced Mets.
Since living in cities is associated with an increased risk for mental disorders such as anxiety disorders, depression, and schizophrenia, it is essential to understand how exposure to urban and natural environments affects mental health and the brain. It has been shown that the amygdala is more activated during a stress task in urban compared to rural dwellers. However, no study so far has examined the causal effects of natural and urban environments on stress-related brain mechanisms. To address this question, we conducted an intervention study to investigate changes in stress-related brain regions as an effect of a one-hour walk in an urban (busy street) vs. natural environment (forest). Brain activation was measured in 63 healthy participants, before and after the walk, using a fearful faces task and a social stress task. Our findings reveal that amygdala activation decreases after the walk in nature, whereas it remains stable after the walk in an urban environment. These results suggest that going for a walk in nature can have salutogenic effects on stress-related brain regions, and consequently, it may act as a preventive measure against mental strain and potentially disease. Given rapidly increasing urbanization, the present results may influence urban planning to create more accessible green areas and to adapt urban environments in a way that will be beneficial for citizens’ mental health.
Previous studies have underscored the importance of breastfeeding and parental care on offspring development and behavior. However, their contribution as dynamic variables in animal models of early life stress are often overlooked. In the present study, we investigated how lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced maternal immune activation (MIA) on postnatal day (P)10 affects maternal care, milk, and offspring development. MIA was associated with elevated milk corticosterone concentrations on P10, which recovered by P11. In contrast, both milk triglyceride and percent creamatocrit values demonstrated a prolonged decrease following inflammatory challenge. Adolescent MIA offspring were heavier, which is often suggestive of poor early life nutrition. While MIA did not decrease maternal care quality, there was a significant compensatory increase in maternal licking and grooming the day following inflammatory challenge. However, this did not protect against disrupted neonatal huddling or later-life alterations in sensorimotor gating, conditioned fear, mechanical allodynia, or reductions in hippocampal parvalbumin expression in MIA offspring. MIA-associated changes in brain and behavior were likely driven by differences in milk nutritional values and not by direct exposure to LPS or inflammatory molecules as neither LPS binding protein nor interleukin-6 milk levels differed between groups. These findings reflected comparable microbiome and transcriptomic patterns at the genome-wide level. Animal models of early life stress can impact both parents and their offspring. One mechanism that can mediate the effects of such stressors is changes to maternal lactation quality which our data show can confer multifaceted and compounding effects on offspring physiology and behavior.
Depression and anxiety are major global health burdens. Although SSRIs targeting the serotonergic system are prescribed over 200 million times annually, they have variable therapeutic efficacy and side effects, and mechanisms of action remain incompletely understood. Here, we comprehensively characterise the molecular landscape of gene regulatory changes associated with fluoxetine, a widely-used SSRI. We performed multimodal analysis of SSRI response in 27 mammalian brain regions using 310 bulk RNA-seq and H3K27ac ChIP-seq datasets, followed by in-depth characterisation of two hippocampal regions using single-cell RNA-seq (20 datasets). Remarkably, fluoxetine induced profound region-specific shifts in gene expression and chromatin state, including in the nucleus accumbens shell, locus coeruleus and septal areas, as well as in more well-studied regions such as the raphe and hippocampal dentate gyrus. Expression changes were strongly enriched at GWAS loci for depression and antidepressant drug response, stressing the relevance to human phenotypes. We observed differential expression at dozens of signalling receptors and pathways, many of which are previously unknown. Single-cell analysis revealed stark differences in fluoxetine response between the dorsal and ventral hippocampal dentate gyri, particularly in oligodendrocytes, mossy cells and inhibitory neurons. Across diverse brain regions, integrative omics analysis consistently suggested increased energy metabolism via oxidative phosphorylation and mitochondrial changes, which we corroborated in vitro; this may thus constitute a shared mechanism of action of fluoxetine. Similarly, we observed pervasive chromatin remodelling signatures across the brain. Our study reveals unexpected regional and cell type-specific heterogeneity in SSRI action, highlights under-studied brain regions that may play a major role in antidepressant response, and provides a rich resource of candidate cell types, genes, gene regulatory elements and pathways for mechanistic analysis and identifying new therapeutic targets for depression and anxiety.
Persistent pain has been recently suggested as a risk factor for dementia. Indeed, chronic pain is frequently accompanied by maladaptive brain plasticity and cognitive deficits whose molecular underpinnings are poorly understood. Despite the emerging role of Tau as a key regulator of neuronal plasticity and pathology in diverse brain disorders, the role of Tau has never been studied in the context of chronic pain. Using a peripheral (sciatic) neuropathy to model chronic pain in mice—spared nerve injury (SNI) for 4 months—in wildtype as well as P301L-Tau transgenic mice, we hereby demonstrate that SNI triggers AD-related neuropathology characterized by Tau hyperphosphorylation, accumulation, and aggregation in hippocampus followed by neuronal atrophy and memory deficits. Molecular analysis suggests that SNI inhibits autophagy and reduces levels of the Rab35, a regulator of Tau degradation while overexpression of Rab35 or treatment with the analgesic drug gabapentin reverted the above molecular changes leading to neurostructural and memory recovery. Interestingly, genetic ablation of Tau blocks the establishment of SNI-induced hippocampal morphofunctional deficits supporting the mediating role of Tau in SNI-evoked hippocampal pathology and memory impairment. These findings reveal that exposure to chronic pain triggers Tau-related neuropathology and may be relevant for understanding how chronic pain precipitates memory loss leading to dementia.
The brain remains a key reservoir of latent HIV infection, and people living with HIV (PLWH) face a high risk for cognitive impairment and psychiatric disorders. Although the burden of HIV infection and co-morbidities is greatest in the Global South, a large proportion of HIV mental health research is carried out in the Global North. Large, well-funded observational cohort studies exploring HIV-associated psychopathology generally involve participant groups from WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic) settings. The socioeconomic status and institutional access afforded to these participant groups on average does not reflect those of the majority of beneficiaries of HIV mental health research. This misalignment may lead to limitations in generalising findings and developing effective interventions to improve the mental health of PLWH. Here, I offer recommendations to actively cultivate authentic diversity and inclusion in the field, with four focus points: (1) for funding bodies, to actively invest in neuroscientists in the Global South for investigations of HIV-related psychopathology; (2) for scientific publishers, to fund professional support services for researchers in the Global South; (3) for academic institutions, to facilitate meaningful, equitable collaborations with researchers in the Global South and incentivise studies with diverse participant groups; and (4) for individual neuroscientists, to actively cite and converse with colleagues in the Global South, tackle personal biases in those conversations, and avoid overgeneralising findings from primarily WEIRD participant groups.
As part of his lifelong effort to develop optimal nosologic categories for the non-affective delusional syndromes, in the 1913 8th edition of his textbook, Kraepelin proposed a new diagnosis of paraphrenia presenting with extensive bizarre delusions and auditory hallucinations but no prominent negative symptoms or personality deterioration. He tentatively suggested it was distinct from dementia praecox (DP). His proposal was met with controversy. In an attempt to resolve this matter, Wilhelm Mayer, working with Kraepelin in Munich, published in 1921 the result of a follow-up study of the 78 cases of paraphrenia on the basis of which Kraepelin had developed his new diagnosis. In the 74 cases with adequate follow-up, Mayer’s final diagnoses were 43% DP, 38% paraphrenia, and 18% other. He also presented limited family data, suggesting co-aggregation of DP and paraphrenia. On the basis of these results, Mayer argued that paraphrenia was likely better considered to represent a form of DP and not an independent disorder. His opinion was accepted by nearly all subsequent authors. Mayer’s work appeared nearly a half-century before the proposal of Robin and Guze for the validation of psychiatric disorders by follow-up and family studies. The idea of deciding psychiatric questions on empirical grounds—rather than on the prestige of debating parties—is not a recent discovery but can be traced to the roots of our current diagnostic system in the work of Emil Kraepelin and his associates.