Article

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

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

ABSTRACT

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

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    • "All subjects underwent a standardized clinical assessment using the Diagnostic Interview for Genetic Studies (DIGS) (Nurnberger et al., 1994). Details of the ascertainment, diagnostic, and screening procedures are provided elsewhere (Calkins et al., 2007). Written informed consent was obtained for each subject per local IRB protocols. "
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    ABSTRACT: The Consortium on the Genetics of Schizophrenia Family Study (COGS-1) has previously reported our efforts to characterize the genetic architecture of 12 primary endophenotypes for schizophrenia. We now report the characterization of 13 additional measures derived from the same endophenotype test paradigms in the COGS-1 families. Nine of the measures were found to discriminate between schizophrenia patients and controls, were significantly heritable (31 to 62%), and were sufficiently independent of previously assessed endophenotypes, demonstrating utility as additional endophenotypes. Genotyping via a custom array of 1536 SNPs from 94 candidate genes identified associations for CTNNA2, ERBB4, GRID1, GRID2, GRIK3, GRIK4, GRIN2B, NOS1AP, NRG1, and RELN across multiple endophenotypes. An experiment-wide p value of 0.003 suggested that the associations across all SNPs and endophenotypes collectively exceeded chance. Linkage analyses performed using a genome-wide SNP array further identified significant or suggestive linkage for six of the candidate endophenotypes, with several genes of interest located beneath the linkage peaks (e.g., CSMD1, DISC1, DLGAP2, GRIK2, GRIN3A, and SLC6A3). While the partial convergence of the association and linkage likely reflects differences in density of gene coverage provided by the distinct genotyping platforms, it is also likely an indication of the differential contribution of rare and common variants for some genes and methodological differences in detection ability. Still, many of the genes implicated by COGS through endophenotypes have been identified by independent studies of common, rare, and de novo variation in schizophrenia, all converging on a functional genetic network related to glutamatergic neurotransmission that warrants further investigation.
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    • "Subjects were participants in the COGS-I, a multi-site family-based study of the genetics of neuro-cognitive and neurophysiological endophenotypes associated with schizophrenia. Full details of the COGS-I recruitment and assessment procedures are reported elsewhere (Calkins et al., 2007) and included standardized clinical assessment interviews of all subjects. All participants who are endophenotyped were between the ages of 18–65 and able to understand and provide informed consent. "
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    ABSTRACT: We evaluated the discrepancy of endophenotypic performance between probands with schizophrenia and unaffected siblings by paternal age at proband birth, a possible marker for de novo mutations. Pairs of schizophrenia probands and unaffected siblings (N=220 pairs) were evaluated on 11 neuropsychological or neurophysiological endophenotypes previously identified as heritable. For each endophenotype, the sibling-minus-proband differences were transformed to standardized scores. Then for each pair, the average discrepancy was calculated from its standardized scores. We tested the hypothesis that the discrepancy is associated with paternal age, controlling for the number of endophenotypes shared between proband and his or her sibling, and proband age, which were both associated with paternal age. The non-significant association between the discrepancy and paternal age was in the opposite direction from the hypothesis. Of the 11 endophenotypes only sensori-motor dexterity was significant, but in the opposite direction. Eight other endophenotypes were also in the opposite direction, but not significant. The results did not support the hypothesized association of increased differences between sibling/proband pairs with greater paternal age. A possible explanation is that the identification of heritable endophenotypes was based on samples for which schizophrenia was attributable to inherited rather than de novo/non-inherited causes.
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    • "Project specific inclusion/exclusion criteria and assessment methods are detailed in previously published articles (Aliyu et al., 2007; Calkins et al., 2007; Calkins et al., 2010; R.E. Gur, Calkins, et al., 2007; R.E. Gur, Nimgaonkar, et al., 2007). "
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