Depression in unipolar and bipolar disorders is associated with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis (HPA-axis) hyperactivity. Also, unipolar disorder has recently been shown to exhibit HPA-axis hypoactivity. We studied for the first time how HPA-axis hypo- and hyperactivity relate to depression and disease burden in bipolar disorder. We were interested in studying hypocortisolism; characterized by increased HPA-axis negative feedback sensitivity and lower basal cortisol levels together with the opposite HPA-axis regulatory pattern of hypercortisolism.
leukocyte telomere length (TL) is considered a marker of biological aging. Several studies have investigated the link between leukocyte TL and aging-associated functional attributes of the brain, but no prior study has investigated whether TL can be linked to brain atrophy and white matter hyperintensities (WMHs); two prominent structural manifestations of brain aging.
Dysfunction of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is one of the most consistent findings in the pathophysiology of mood disorders. The potential role of genes related to HPA axis function has been investigated extensively in major depression. However, in bipolar disorder (BPD) such studies are scarce. We performed a systematic HapMap-based association study of six genes crucial for HPA axis function in relation to BPD.
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis plays a central role in stress regulation, and leukocyte telomere length (TL) has been suggested to represent a cumulative measure of stress. Depression is intimately related with stress and frequently exhibits a dysregulated HPA axis. We aimed to study the relationships between TL and biological and psychological facets of stress in recurrent major depressive disorder and controls.
In recent years, DISC1 has emerged as one of the most credible and best supported candidate genes for schizophrenia and related neuropsychiatric disorders. Furthermore, increasing evidence--both genetic and functional--indicates that many of its protein interaction partners are also involved in the development of these diseases. In this study, we applied a pooled sample 454 sequencing strategy, to explore the contribution of genetic variation in DISC1 and 10 of its interaction partners (ATF5, Grb2, FEZ1, LIS-1, PDE4B, NDE1, NDEL1, TRAF3IP1, YWHAE, and ZNF365) to schizophrenia susceptibility in an isolated northern Swedish population. Mutation burden analysis of the identified variants in a population of 486 SZ patients and 514 control individuals, revealed that non-synonymous rare variants with a MAF<0.01 were significantly more present in patients compared to controls (8.64% versus 4.7%, P?=?0.018), providing further evidence for the involvement of DISC1 and some of its interaction partners in psychiatric disorders. This increased burden of rare missense variants was even more striking in a subgroup of early onset patients (12.9% versus 4.7%, P?=?0.0004), highlighting the importance of studying subgroups of patients and identifying endophenotypes. Upon investigation of the potential functional effects associated with the identified missense variants, we found that ?90% of these variants reside in intrinsically disordered protein regions. The observed increase in mutation burden in patients provides further support for the role of the DISC1 pathway in schizophrenia. Furthermore, this study presents the first evidence supporting the involvement of mutations within intrinsically disordered protein regions in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders. As many important biological functions depend directly on the disordered state, alteration of this disorder in key pathways may represent an intriguing new disease mechanism for schizophrenia and related neuropsychiatric diseases. Further research into this unexplored domain will be required to elucidate the role of the identified variants in schizophrenia etiology.
The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) enzyme has a key function in the degradation of catecholamines and a functional polymorphism is val158met. The val/val genotype results in a three to fourfold higher enzymatic activity compared with the met/met genotype, with the val/met genotype exhibiting intermediate activity. Since pain syndromes as well as anxiety and depression are associated to low and high COMT activity respectively and these conditions are all associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) we wanted for the first time to explore the relationship between the polymorphism and IBS.
An interaction between predisposing genes and environmental stressors is thought to underlie the neurodevelopmental disorder schizophrenia. In a targeted gene screening, we previously found that the minor allele of the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs6336 in the neurotrophic tyrosine kinase receptor 1 (NTRK1/TRKA) gene is associated with schizophrenia as a risk factor.
Previous studies implicated centrosomal dysfunction as a source of various neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia (SZ). Two recent reports [Gurling et al., 2006; Datta et al., 2008. Mol Psychiatry] described an association between polymorphisms in the PCM1 gene and SZ in a UK/Scottish population. In this study, we aimed to replicate these findings in a Northern Swedish association sample of 486 research subjects with SZ and 512 unrelated control individuals. We genotyped 12 previously described SNP markers and carried out haplotype analyses using the same multi-marker haplotypes previously reported. Though we could not replicate the association with SNPs rs445422 and rs208747, we did observe a significant protective association with intronic SNP rs13276297. Furthermore, we performed a meta-analysis comprising 1,794 SZ patients and 1,553 controls, which confirmed the previously reported association with rs445422 and rs208747. These data provide further evidence that PCM1-though certainly not a major risk factor in the Northern Swedish population-cannot be ruled out as a contributor to SZ risk and/or protection, and deserves further replication in larger populations to elucidate its role in disease etiology.
Both leukocyte telomere length and the apolipoprotein ?4 allele have been associated with mortality, cardiovascular disease, cognition, and dementia. The authors investigated whether leukocyte telomere length was associated with APOE genotype or cognitive abilities in the context of APOE genotype. The setting for this cross-sectional study was 427 nondemented individuals aged 41-81 yr. The authors found that ?4 carriers overall exhibited significantly longer telomeres compared with non-carriers (difference of 268 bp, p = 0.001). This difference was greatest at the lower limit of the age span and nonsignificant at the upper limit, which translated into a significantly higher telomere attrition rate (p = 0.049) among ?4 carriers (37 bp/years) compared with non-carriers (21 bp/year). Further, longer telomeres among ?4 carriers significantly predicted worse performance on episodic memory tasks. No significant associations were found on tasks tapping semantic and visuospatial ability, or among ?3/?3 carriers. In conclusion, APOE ?4 carriers had longer telomeres compared with non-carriers, but higher rate of attrition. Among them, longer telomeres predicted worse performance on episodic memory tasks. These observations suggest that the ?4 allele is associated with abnormal cell turnover of functional and possibly clinical significance.
Telomere length is documented to have a hereditary component, and both paternal and X-linked inheritance have been proposed. We investigated blood cell telomere length in 962 individuals with an age range between 0 and 102 years. Telomere length correlations were analyzed between parent-child pairs in different age groups and between grandparent-grandchild pairs. A highly significant correlation between the fathers and the childs telomere length was observed (r=0.454, P<0.001), independent of the sex of the offspring (father-son: r=0.465, P<0.001; father-daughter: r=0.484, P<0.001). For mothers, the correlations were weaker (mother-child: r=0.148, P=0.098; mother-son: r=0.080, P=0.561; mother-daughter: r=0.297, P=0.013). A positive telomere length correlation was also observed for grandparent-grandchild pairs (r=0.272, P=0.013). Our findings indicate that fathers contribute significantly stronger to the telomere length of the offspring compared with mothers (P=0.012), but we cannot exclude a maternal influence on the daughters telomeres. Interestingly, the father-child correlations diminished with increasing age (P=0.022), suggesting that nonheritable factors have an impact on telomere length dynamics during life.
Neuregulin 1 (NRG1), a growth factor involved in neurodevelopment, myelination, neurotransmitter receptor expression, and synaptic plasticity, first joined the list of candidate genes for schizophrenia when a 7-marker haplotype at the 5 end of the gene (Hap(ICE)) was shown to be associated with the disorder in the Icelandic population. Since then, more genetic and functional evidence has emerged, which supports a role for NRG1 in the development of schizophrenia.
Through active reuptake of serotonin into presynaptic neurons, the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) plays an important role in regulating serotonin concentrations in the brain, and it is the site of binding for tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Therefore it has been hypothesized that this transporter is involved in the etiology of bipolar (BP) disorder. Inconsistent association study results for the SLC6A4 gene encoding 5-HTT reported in literature emphasize the need for more systematic and detailed analyses of this candidate gene. We performed an extensive analysis of SLC6A4 on DNA of 254 BPI patients and 364 control individuals from a Northern Swedish isolated population. This analysis consisted of a HapMap LD-based association study including three widely investigated polymorphisms (5-HTTVNTR, 5-HTTLPR, and rs3813034), a copy-number variation (CNV) analysis and a mutation analysis of the complete coding sequence and the 3-UTR of SLC6A4. No single marker showed statistically significant association with BPI, nor did any of the haplotypes. In the mutation analysis 13 novel variants were detected, including 2 amino acid substitutions M389V and I587L, but these are probably not implicated in risk for BP. No deletions or duplications were detected in the CNV analysis. We conclude that variation in the SLC6A4 gene or its regulatory regions does not contribute to the susceptibility for BP disorder in the Northern Swedish population.
Age-associated telomere shortening is a well documented feature of peripheral blood cells in human population studies, but it is not known to what extent these data can be transferred to the individual level. Telomere length (TL) in two blood samples taken at approximately 10 years interval from 959 individuals was investigated using real-time PCR. TL was also measured in 13 families from a multigenerational cohort. As expected, we found an age-related decline in TL over time (r = -0.164, P<0.001, n = 959). However, approximately one-third of the individuals exhibited a stable or increased TL over a decade. The individual telomere attrition rate was inversely correlated with initial TL at a highly significant level (r = -0.752, P<0.001), indicating that the attrition rate was most pronounced in individuals with long telomeres at baseline. In accordance, the age-associated telomere attrition rate was more prominent in families with members displaying longer telomeres at a young age (r = -0.691, P<0.001). Abnormal blood TL has been reported at diagnosis of various malignancies, but in the present study there was no association between individual telomere attrition rate or prediagnostic TL and later tumor development. The collected data strongly suggest a TL maintenance mechanism acting in vivo, providing protection of short telomeres as previously demonstrated in vitro. Our findings might challenge the hypothesis that individual TL can predict possible life span or later tumor development.
From a number of genome-wide association studies it was shown that de novo and/or rare copy number variants (CNVs) are found at an increased frequency in neuropsychiatric diseases. In this study we examined the prevalence of CNVs in six genomic regions (1q21.1, 2p16.3, 3q29, 15q11.2, 15q13.3, and 16p11.2) previously implicated in neuropsychiatric diseases. Hereto, a cohort of four neuropsychiatric disorders (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and intellectual disability) and control individuals from three different populations was used in combination with Multilpex Amplicon Quantifiaction (MAQ) assays, capable of high resolution (kb range) and custom-tailored CNV detection. Our results confirm the etiological candidacy of the six selected CNV regions for neuropsychiatric diseases. It is possible that CNVs in these regions can result in disturbed brain development and in this way lead to an increased susceptibility for different neuropsychiatric disorders, dependent on additional genetic and environmental factors. Our results also suggest that the neurodevelopmental component is larger in the etiology of schizophrenia and intellectual disability than in mood disorders. Finally, our data suggest that deletions are in general more pathogenic than duplications. Given the high frequency of the examined CNVs (1-2%) in patients of different neuropsychiatric disorders, screening of large cohorts with an affordable and feasible method like the MAQ assays used in this study is likely to result in important progress in unraveling the genetic factors leading to an increased susceptibility for several psychiatric disorders.
Telomere length shortens with cellular division, and leukocyte telomere length is used as a marker for systemic telomere length. The hippocampus hosts adult neurogenesis and is an important structure for episodic memory, and carriers of the apolipoprotein E ?4 allele exhibit higher hippocampal atrophy rates and differing telomere dynamics compared with non-carriers. The authors investigated whether leukocyte telomere length was associated with hippocampal volume in 57 cognitively intact subjects (29 ?3/?3 carriers; 28 ?4 carriers) aged 49-79 yr. Leukocyte telomere length correlated inversely with left (r(s)?=?-0.465; p?=?0.011), right (r(s)?=?-0.414; p?=?0.025), and total hippocampus volume (r(s)?=?-0.519; p?=?0.004) among APOE ?3/?3 carriers, but not among ?4 carriers. However, the ?4 carriers fit with the general correlation pattern exhibited by the ?3/?3 carriers, as ?4 carriers on average had longer telomeres and smaller hippocampi compared with ?3/?3 carriers. The relationship observed can be interpreted as long telomeres representing a history of relatively low cellular proliferation, reflected in smaller hippocampal volumes. The results support the potential of leukocyte telomere length being used as a biomarker for tapping functional and structural processes of the aging brain.
The GWAS-based association of CACNA1C with bipolar disorder (BPD) is one of the strongest genetic findings to date. CACNA1C belongs to the family of CACN genes encoding voltage-dependent calcium channels (VDCCs). VDCCs are involved in brain circuits and cognitive processes implicated in BPD and schizophrenia (SZ). Recently, it was shown that rare copy number variations (CNVs) are found at an increased frequency in SZ and to a lesser extent also in BPD, suggesting the involvement of CNVs in the causation of these diseases. We hypothesize that CNVs in CACN genes can influence the susceptibility to BPD, SZ, and/or schizoaffective disorder (SZA). A search for CNVs in eight CACN genes in a patient-control sample of European decent was performed. A total of 709 BP patients, 645 SZ patients, 189 SZA patients, and 1,470 control individuals were screened using the Multiplex Amplicon Quantification (MAQ) method. We found a rare, partial deletion of 35.7 kb in CACNA2D4 in two unrelated late onset bipolar I patients and in one control individual. All three deletions shared the same breakpoints removing exons 17-26 of CACNA2D4, comprising part of the CACHE domain. Based on the data we cannot claim causality to BPD of the identified CACNA2D4 deletion but nevertheless this deletion can be important in unraveling the underlying processes leading to psychiatric diseases in general and BPD in particular.
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