[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous research suggests that low birth weight (BW) induces reduced brain cortical surface area (SA) which would persist until at least early adulthood. Moreover, low BW has been linked to psychiatric disorders such as depression and psychological distress, and to altered neurocognitive profiles.
We present novel findings obtained by analysing high-resolution structural MRI scans of 48 twins; specifically, we aimed: i) to test the BW-SA association in a middle-aged adult sample; and ii) to assess whether either depression/anxiety disorders or intellectual quotient (IQ) influence the BW-SA link, using a monozygotic (MZ) twin design to separate environmental and genetic effects.
Both lower BW and decreased IQ were associated with smaller total and regional cortical SA in adulthood. Within a twin pair, lower BW was related to smaller total cortical and regional SA. In contrast, MZ twin differences in SA were not related to differences in either IQ or depression/anxiety disorders.
The present study supports findings indicating that i) BW has a long-lasting effect on cortical SA, where some familial and environmental influences alter both foetal growth and brain morphology; ii) uniquely environmental factors affecting BW also alter SA; iii) higher IQ correlates with larger SA; and iv) these effects are not modified by internalizing psychopathology.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background Alterations of cortical thickness have been shown in imaging studies of schizophrenia but it is unclear to what extent they are related to disease phenotype (including symptom profile) or other aspects such as genetic liability, disease onset and disease progression. Aims To test the hypothesis that cortical thinning would vary across different subgroups of patients with chronic schizophrenia, delineated according to their symptom profiles. Method We compared high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging data of 87 patients with DSM-IV schizophrenia with 108 controls to detect changes in cortical thickness across the entire brain (P<0.05, false discovery rate-adjusted). The patient group was divided into three subgroups, consisting of patients with predominantly negative, disorganised or paranoid symptoms. Results The negative symptoms subgroup showed the most extensive cortical thinning, whereas thinning in the other subgroups was focused in prefrontal and temporal cortical subregions. Conclusions Our findings support growing evidence of potential subtypes of schizophrenia that have different brain structural deficit profiles.
Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · The British journal of psychiatry: the journal of mental science
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In aetiologically complex illnesses such as schizophrenia, there is no direct link between genotype and phenotype. Intermediate phenotypes could help clarify the underlying biology and assist in the hunt for genetic vulnerability variants. We have previously shown that cognition shares substantial genetic variance with schizophrenia; however, it is unknown if this reflects pleiotropic effects, direct causality or some shared third factor that links both, for example, brain volume (BV) changes. We quantified the degree of net genetic overlap and tested the direction of causation between schizophrenia liability, brain structure and cognition in a pan-European schizophrenia twin cohort consisting of 1243 members from 626 pairs. Cognitive deficits lie upstream of the liability for schizophrenia with about a quarter of the variance in liability to schizophrenia explained by variation in cognitive function. BV changes lay downstream of schizophrenia liability, with 4% of BV variation explained directly by variation in liability. However, our power to determine the nature of the relationship between BV deviation and schizophrenia liability was more limited. Thus, while there was strong evidence that cognitive impairment is causal to schizophrenia liability, we are not in a position to make a similar statement about the relationship between liability and BV. This is the first study to demonstrate that schizophrenia liability is expressed partially through cognitive deficits. One prediction of the finding that BV changes lie downstream of the disease liability is that the risk loci that influence schizophrenia liability will thereafter influence BV and to a lesser extent. By way of contrast, cognitive function lies upstream of schizophrenia, thus the relevant loci will actually have a larger effect size on cognitive function than on schizophrenia. These are testable predictions.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 2 December 2014; doi:10.1038/mp.2014.152.
No preview · Article · Dec 2014 · Molecular Psychiatry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: First combined grey and white matter analysis in narcissistic personality disorder•Narcissistic personality disorder is associated with frontal grey matter loss•NaPD is also associated with right frontal white matter alterations
Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neurodevelopmental disruptions caused by obstetric complications play a role in the etiology of several phenotypes associated with neuropsychiatric diseases and cognitive dysfunctions. Importantly, it has been noticed that epigenetic processes occurring early in life may mediate these associations. Here, DNA methylation signatures at IGF2 (insulin-like growth factor 2) and IGF2BP1-3 (IGF2-binding proteins 1-3) were examined in a sample consisting of 34 adult monozygotic (MZ) twins informative for obstetric complications and cognitive performance. Multivariate linear regression analysis of twin data was implemented to test for associations between methylation levels and both birth weight (BW) and adult working memory (WM) performance. Familial and unique environmental factors underlying these potential relationships were evaluated. A link was detected between DNA methylation levels of two CpG sites in the IGF2BP1 gene and both BW and adult WM performance. The BW-IGF2BP1 methylation association seemed due to non-shared environmental factors influencing BW, whereas the WM-IGF2BP1 methylation relationship seemed mediated by both genes and environment. Our data is in agreement with previous evidence indicating that DNA methylation status may be related to prenatal stress and later neurocognitive phenotypes. While former reports independently detected associations between DNA methylation and either BW or WM, current results suggest that these relationships are not confounded by each other.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Imaging genetics examines genetic influences on brain structure and function. This preliminary study tested a fundamental assumption of that approach by estimating the heritability of the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal during antisaccades, a measure of response inhibition impaired in different psychiatric conditions. One hundred thirty-two healthy same-sex reared-together twins (90 monozygotic (MZ; 32 male) and 42 dizygotic (DZ; 24 male)) performed antisaccades in the laboratory. Of these, 96 twins (60 MZ, 28 male; 36 DZ, 22 male) subsequently underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during antisaccades. Variation in antisaccade direction errors in the laboratory showed significant heritability (47%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 22-65). In fMRI, the contrast of antisaccades with prosaccades yielded BOLD signal in fronto-parietal-subcortical networks. Twin modelling provided tentative evidence of significant heritability (50%, 95% CI: 18-72) of BOLD in the left thalamus only. However, due to the limited power to detect heritability in this study, replications in larger samples are needed.
No preview · Article · Aug 2014 · Biological Psychology
[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: In the present study, an integrated hierarchical approach was applied to: (1) identify pathways associated with susceptibility to schizophrenia; (2) detect genes that may be potentially affected in these pathways since they contain an associated polymorphism; and (3) annotate the functional consequences of such single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the affected genes or their regulatory regions. The Global Test was applied to detect schizophrenia-associated pathways using discovery and replication datasets comprising 5,040 and 5,082 individuals of European ancestry, respectively. Information concerning functional gene-sets was retrieved from the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes, Gene Ontology, and the Molecular Signatures Database. Fourteen of the gene-sets or pathways identified in the discovery dataset were confirmed in the replication dataset. These include functional processes involved in transcriptional regulation and gene expression, synapse organization, cell adhesion, and apoptosis. For two genes, i.e. CTCF and CACNB2, evidence for association with schizophrenia was available (at the gene-level) in both the discovery study and published data from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium schizophrenia study. Furthermore, these genes mapped to four of the 14 presently identified pathways. Several of the SNPs assigned to CTCF and CACNB2 have potential functional consequences, and a gene in close proximity to CACNB2, i.e. ARL5B, was identified as a potential gene of interest. Application of the present hierarchical approach thus allowed: (1) identification of novel biological gene-sets or pathways with potential involvement in the etiology of schizophrenia, as well as replication of these findings in an independent cohort; (2) detection of genes of interest for future follow-up studies; and (3) the highlighting of novel genes in previously reported candidate regions for schizophrenia.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Season of birth has been shown to influence risk for several neuropsychiatric diseases. Furthermore, it has been suggested that season of birth modifies a number of brain morphological traits. Since cortical thickness alterations have been reported across some levels of the psychosis-spectrum, this study was aimed at i) assessing the scarcely explored relationship between cortical thickness and severity of subclinical psychotic experiences (PEs) in healthy subjects, and ii) evaluating the potential impact of season of birth in the preceding thickness-PEs relationship. As both PEs and brain cortical features are heritable, the current work used monozygotic twins to separately evaluate familial and unique environmental factors. High-resolution structural MRI scans of 48 twins (24 monozygotic pairs) were analyzed to estimate cortical thickness using FreeSurfer. They were then examined in relation to PEs, accounting for the effects of birth season; putative differential relationships between PEs and cortical thickness depending on season of birth were also tested. Current results support previous findings indicative of cortical thickening in healthy individuals with high psychometrically assessed psychosis scores, probably in line with theories of compensatory aspects of brain features in non-clinical populations. Additionally, they suggest distinct patterns of cortical thickness-PEs relationships depending on birth seasonality. Familial factors underlying the presence of PEs may drive these effects.
No preview · Article · May 2014 · Journal of Psychiatric Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Genetic variation in the gene encoding ZNF804A, a risk gene for schizophrenia, has been shown to affect brain functional endophenotypes of the disorder, while studies of white matter structure have been inconclusive.
We analysed effects of ZNF804A single nucleotide polymorphism rs1344706 on grey and white matter using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) in high-resolution T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scans of 62 schizophrenia patients and 54 matched healthy controls.
We found a significant (p < 0.05, family-wise error corrected for multiple comparisons) interaction effect of diagnostic group x genotype for local grey matter in the left orbitofrontal and right and left lateral temporal cortices, where patients and controls showed diverging effects of genotype. Analysing the groups separately (at p < 0.001, uncorrected), variation in rs1344706 showed effects on brain structure within the schizophrenia patients in several areas including the left and right inferior temporal, right supramarginal/superior temporal, right and left inferior frontal, left frontopolar, right and left dorsolateral/ventrolateral prefrontal cortices, and the right thalamus, as well as effects within the healthy controls in left lateral temporal, right anterior insula and left orbitofrontal cortical areas. We did not find effects of genotype of regional white matter in either of the two cohorts.
Our findings demonstrate effects of ZNF804A genetic variation on brain structure, with diverging regional effects in schizophrenia patients and healthy controls in frontal and temporal brain areas. These effects, however, might be dependent on the impact of other (genetic or non-genetic) disease factors.
Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Psychological Medicine