Bipolar disorder is one of the most common and devastating psychiatric disorders whose mechanisms remain largely unknown. Despite a strong genetic contribution demonstrated by twin and adoption studies, a polygenic background influences this multifactorial and heterogeneous psychiatric disorder. To identify susceptibility genes on a severe and more familial sub-form of the disease, we conducted a genome-wide association study focused on 211 patients of French origin with an early age at onset and 1,719 controls, and then replicated our data on a German sample of 159 patients with early-onset bipolar disorder and 998 controls. Replication study and subsequent meta-analysis revealed two genes encoding proteins involved in phosphoinositide signalling pathway (PLEKHA5 and PLCXD3). We performed additional replication studies in two datasets from the WTCCC (764 patients and 2,938 controls) and the GAIN-TGen cohorts (1,524 patients and 1,436 controls) and found nominal P-values both in the PLCXD3 and PLEKHA5 loci with the WTCCC sample. In addition, we identified in the French cohort one affected individual with a deletion at the PLCXD3 locus and another one carrying a missense variation in PLCXD3 (p.R93H), both supporting a role of the phosphatidylinositol pathway in early-onset bipolar disorder vulnerability. Although the current nominally significant findings should be interpreted with caution and need replication in independent cohorts, this study supports the strategy to combine genetic approaches to determine the molecular mechanisms underlying bipolar disorder.
Recent years have seen considerable progress in epidemiological and molecular genetic research into environmental and genetic factors in schizophrenia, but methodological uncertainties remain with regard to validating environmental exposures, and the population risk conferred by individual molecular genetic variants is small. There are now also a limited number of studies that have investigated molecular genetic candidate gene-environment interactions (G × E), however, so far, thorough replication of findings is rare and G × E research still faces several conceptual and methodological challenges. In this article, we aim to review these recent developments and illustrate how integrated, large-scale investigations may overcome contemporary challenges in G × E research, drawing on the example of a large, international, multi-center study into the identification and translational application of G × E in schizophrenia. While such investigations are now well underway, new challenges emerge for G × E research from late-breaking evidence that genetic variation and environmental exposures are, to a significant degree, shared across a range of psychiatric disorders, with potential overlap in phenotype.
Large scale gene expression (transcriptome) analysis and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for single nucleotide polymorphisms have generated a considerable amount of gene- and disease-related information, but heterogeneity and various sources of noise have limited the discovery of disease mechanisms. As systematic dataset integration is becoming essential, we developed methods and performed meta-clustering of gene coexpression links in 11 transcriptome studies from postmortem brains of human subjects with major depressive disorder (MDD) and non-psychiatric control subjects. We next sought enrichment in the top 50 meta-analyzed coexpression modules for genes otherwise identified by GWAS for various sets of disorders. One coexpression module of 88 genes was consistently and significantly associated with GWAS for MDD, other neuropsychiatric disorders and brain functions, and for medical illnesses with elevated clinical risk of depression, but not for other diseases. In support of the superior discriminative power of this novel approach, we observed no significant enrichment for GWAS-related genes in coexpression modules extracted from single studies or in meta-modules using gene expression data from non-psychiatric control subjects. Genes in the identified module encode proteins implicated in neuronal signaling and structure, including glutamate metabotropic receptors (GRM1, GRM7), GABA receptors (GABRA2, GABRA4), and neurotrophic and development-related proteins [BDNF, reelin (RELN), Ephrin receptors (EPHA3, EPHA5)]. These results are consistent with the current understanding of molecular mechanisms of MDD and provide a set of putative interacting molecular partners, potentially reflecting components of a functional module across cells and biological pathways that are synchronously recruited in MDD, other brain disorders and MDD-related illnesses. Collectively, this study demonstrates the importance of integrating transcriptome data, gene coexpression modules and GWAS results for providing novel and complementary approaches to investigate the molecular pathology of MDD and other complex brain disorders.
Bipolar disorder (BD) is considered as a multifactorial disorder involving complex interactions between genetic and environmental factors, where immune dysfunction is thought to play a key etiopathogenic role. In particular, excess of winter births associated with early-life infections raise the possibility of the implication of innate immunity. Given the pivotal role of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR-4), a major innate immune sensor molecule, we hypothesized that genetic variations of TLR-4 may be associated to BD.
Bipolar affective disorder (BD) is a multifactorial disorder with heterogeneous clinical presentations, in particular according to age at onset (AAO). The relevance of such an indicator has been discussed as a potential specifier in future nosographical classification.
Bipolar disorder is a multifactorial psychiatric disorder with developmental and progressive neurophysiological alterations. This disorder is typically characterized by cyclical and recurrent episodes of mania and depression but is heterogeneous in its clinical presentation and outcome. Although the DSM-IV-TR criteria identify several features that are of phenomenological relevance, these are of less utility for defining homogeneous subgroups, for analyses of correlations with biomarkers or for directing focused medication strategies. We provide a comprehensive review of existing evidence regarding to age at onset in bipolar disorder. Eight admixture studies demonstrate three homogeneous subgroups of patients with bipolar disorder identified according to age at onset (early, intermediate and late age at onset), with two cutoff points, at 21 and 34 years. It is suggested that the early-onset subgroup has specific clinical features and outcomes different from those of the other subgroups. Early-onset subgroup may be considered a more suitable clinical phenotype for the identification of susceptibility genes with recent data demonstrating associations with genetic variants specifically in this subgroup. The use of age at onset as a specifier may also facilitate the identification of other biological markers for use in brain imaging, circadian, inflammatory and cognitive research. A key challenge is posed by the use of age at onset in treatment decision algorithms, although further research is required to increase the evidence-base. We discuss three potential benefits of specifying age at onset, namely: focused medication strategies, the targeted prevention of specific comorbid conditions and decreasing the duration of untreated illness. We argue that age at onset should be included as a specifier for bipolar disorders.
Although the etiology of bipolar disorder remains uncertain, multiple studies examining neuroimaging, peripheral markers and genetics have provided important insights into the pathophysiologic processes underlying bipolar disorder. Neuroimaging studies have consistently demonstrated loss of gray matter, as well as altered activation of subcortical, anterior temporal and ventral prefrontal regions in response to emotional stimuli in bipolar disorder. Genetics studies have identified several potential candidate genes associated with increased risk for developing bipolar disorder that involve circadian rhythm, neuronal development and calcium metabolism. Notably, several groups have found decreased levels of neurotrophic factors and increased pro-inflammatory cytokines and oxidative stress markers. Together these findings provide the background for the identification of potential biomarkers for vulnerability, disease expression and to help understand the course of illness and treatment response. In other areas of medicine, validated biomarkers now inform clinical decision-making. Although the findings reviewed herein hold promise, further research involving large collaborative studies is needed to validate these potential biomarkers prior to employing them for clinical purposes. Therefore, in this positional paper from the ISBD-BIONET (biomarkers network from the International Society for Bipolar Disorders), we will discuss our view of biomarkers for these three areas: neuroimaging, peripheral measurements and genetics; and conclude the paper with our position for the next steps in the search for biomarkers for bipolar disorder.
Most psychiatric disorders are moderately to highly heritable. The degree to which genetic variation is unique to individual disorders or shared across disorders is unclear. To examine shared genetic etiology, we use genome-wide genotype data from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) for cases and controls in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We apply univariate and bivariate methods for the estimation of genetic variation within and covariation between disorders. SNPs explained 17-29% of the variance in liability. The genetic correlation calculated using common SNPs was high between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (0.68 ± 0.04 s.e.), moderate between schizophrenia and major depressive disorder (0.43 ± 0.06 s.e.), bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder (0.47 ± 0.06 s.e.), and ADHD and major depressive disorder (0.32 ± 0.07 s.e.), low between schizophrenia and ASD (0.16 ± 0.06 s.e.) and non-significant for other pairs of disorders as well as between psychiatric disorders and the negative control of Crohns disease. This empirical evidence of shared genetic etiology for psychiatric disorders can inform nosology and encourages the investigation of common pathophysiologies for related disorders.
The assessment of response to lithium maintenance treatment in bipolar disorder (BD) is complicated by variable length of treatment, unpredictable clinical course, and often inconsistent compliance. Prospective and retrospective methods of assessment of lithium response have been proposed in the literature. In this study we report the key phenotypic measures of the "Retrospective Criteria of Long-Term Treatment Response in Research Subjects with Bipolar Disorder" scale currently used in the Consortium on Lithium Genetics (ConLiGen) study.
Objective. To test for differences in reported age at onset (AAO) of bipolar I affective disorder in clinical samples drawn from Europe and the USA. Methods. Admixture analysis was used to identify the model best fitting the observed AAO distributions of two large samples of bipolar I patients from Europe and USA (n = 3616 and n = 2275, respectively). Theoretical AAO functions were compared between the two samples. Results. The model best fitting the observed distribution of AAO in both samples was a mixture of three Gaussian distributions. The theoretical AAO functions of bipolar I disorder differed significantly between the European and USA populations, with further analyses indicating that (i) the proportion of patients belonging to the early-onset subgroup was higher in the USA sample (63 vs. 25%) and (ii) mean age at onset (±SD) in the early-onset subgroup was lower for the USA sample (14.5 ± 4.9 vs. 19 ± 2.7 years). Conclusions. The models best describing the reported AAO distributions of European and USA bipolar I patients were remarkably stable. The intermediate- and late-onset subgroups had similar characteristics in the two samples. However, the theoretical AAO function differed significantly between the USA and European samples due to the higher proportion of patients in the early-onset subgroup and the lower mean age-at-onset in the USA sample.
In two recent papers, polymorphisms located in U2AF homology motif kinase 1 (UHMK1) gene have been associated to schizophrenia. This gene encodes the serine/threonine kinase, kinase interacting with Stathmin, and has been functionally related to RNA metabolism and neurite outgrowth. In this study, we explored the contribution of this gene in schizophrenia susceptibility, using a case-control association study, a mutation screening, a transcription level analysis, and by the investigation of the phosphorylation status of the splicing factor, SF1, in B-lymphoblastoid cell lines of patients and controls. No association was observed in our French cohort, and no amino acid substitution was predicted in the subsample studied for mutation screening. No difference was observed in expression level or in SF1 phosphorylation between patients and controls. Despite a slight difference persisting in the meta-analysis carried out using four European populations, these data suggest, altogether, that UHMK1 does not play a major role in susceptibility to schizophrenia.
Intellectual disability (ID) is frequently associated with sleep disorders. Treatment with melatonin demonstrated efficacy, suggesting that, at least in a subgroup of patients, the endogenous melatonin level may not be sufficient to adequately set the sleep-wake cycles. Mutations in ASMT gene, coding the last enzyme of the melatonin pathway have been reported as a risk factor for autism spectrum disorders (ASD), which are often comorbid with ID. Thus the aim of the study was to ascertain the genetic variability of ASMT in a large cohort of patients with ID and controls.
We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) and a follow-up study of bipolar disorder (BD), a common neuropsychiatric disorder. In the GWAS, we investigated 499,494 autosomal and 12,484 X-chromosomal SNPs in 682 patients with BD and in 1300 controls. In the first follow-up step, we tested the most significant 48 SNPs in 1729 patients with BD and in 2313 controls. Eight SNPs showed nominally significant association with BD and were introduced to a meta-analysis of the GWAS and the first follow-up samples. Genetic variation in the neurocan gene (NCAN) showed genome-wide significant association with BD in 2411 patients and 3613 controls (rs1064395, p = 3.02 × 10(-8); odds ratio = 1.31). In a second follow-up step, we replicated this finding in independent samples of BD, totaling 6030 patients and 31,749 controls (p = 2.74 × 10(-4); odds ratio = 1.12). The combined analysis of all study samples yielded a p value of 2.14 × 10(-9) (odds ratio = 1.17). Our results provide evidence that rs1064395 is a common risk factor for BD. NCAN encodes neurocan, an extracellular matrix glycoprotein, which is thought to be involved in cell adhesion and migration. We found that expression in mice is localized within cortical and hippocampal areas. These areas are involved in cognition and emotion regulation and have previously been implicated in BD by neuropsychological, neuroimaging, and postmortem studies.
The gene encoding carboxyl-terminal PDZ ligand of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (NOS1AP) is located on chromosome 1q23.3, a candidate region for schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Previous genetic and functional studies explored the role of NOS1AP in these psychiatric conditions, but only a limited number explored the sequence variability of NOS1AP.
Prenatal exposure to viruses or parasites with tropism for the central nervous system is one of the risk factors for psychotic disorders. However, the relationship between past exposure to Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) and incidence of bipolar disorders (BD) is poorly documented across populations.
Implication of immune processes in bipolar disorder (BD) has recently gained increasing attention. Tolerogenic molecules, among which HLA-G plays a prominent role, mediate the modulation of such processes. The HLA-G locus is characterized by a high number of polymorphisms including a functionally relevant 14 base pair (bp) insertion/deletion (Ins/Del) allele affecting the HLA-G expression. Here, we analyzed the distribution of this polymorphism in 561 BD patients and 161 healthy and found that the HLA-G 14bp Ins/Ins genotype was significantly more prevalent in healthy controls than in patients (corrected p; pc=0.032) and that the prevalence of such protective genotype is lower among patients born during the winter season as compared to those born in other periods (pc=0.006). Possible mechanisms between low HLA G expression and resistance to infections as well as potential relationships between infections in early life and susceptibility to BD are discussed.
For many analytical methods the efficiency of DNA amplification varies across the genome and between samples. The most affected genome regions tend to correlate with high C + G content, however this relationship is complex and does not explain why the direction and magnitude of effects varies considerably between samples.
Patients affected by bipolar disorder (BD) frequently report abnormalities in sleep/wake cycles. In addition, they showed abnormal oscillating melatonin secretion, a key regulator of circadian rhythms and sleep patterns. The acetylserotonin O-methyltransferase (ASMT) is a key enzyme of the melatonin biosynthesis and has recently been associated with psychiatric disorders such as autism spectrum disorders and depression. In this paper, we analysed rare and common variants of ASMT in patients with BD and unaffected control subjects and performed functional analysis of these variants by assaying the ASMT activity in their B-lymphoblastoid cell lines. We sequenced the coding and the regulatory regions of the gene in a discovery sample of 345 patients with BD and 220 controls. We performed an association study on this discovery sample using common variants located in the promoter region and showed that rs4446909 was significantly associated with BD (P= 0.01) and associated with a lower mRNA level (P< 10(-4)) and a lower enzymatic activity (P< 0.05) of ASMT. A replication study and a meta-analysis using 480 independent patients with BD and 672 controls confirmed the significant association between rs4446909 and BD (P= 0.002). These results correlate with the general lower ASMT enzymatic activity observed in patients with BD (P= 0.001) compared with controls. Finally, several deleterious ASMT mutations identified in patients were associated with low ASMT activity (P= 0.01). In this study, we determined how rare and common variations in ASMT might play a role in BD vulnerability and suggest a general role of melatonin as susceptibility factor for BD.
This study is the first that formally tests for genetic heterogeneity of bipolar disorder (BD) according to age at onset (AAO) sub-groups by combining positional cloning and candidate gene approaches. Our previous genome-wide linkage-scan identified five genomic regions linked to early-onset form of BD. The present study uses association analysis to test genetic heterogeneity of candidate genes located in these five regions in a sample of 443 unrelated bipolar patients and 1,731 controls. The study involved the following steps: (1) test of heterogeneity by comparing early-onset BD patients versus later-onset BD patients; and (2) for significant results in step 1, comparison of early-onset BD patients and later-onset BD patients separately to controls. Two types of analyses were used: the single SNP test and the gene-based association test. We provide evidence for genetic heterogeneity within the ADRB2 (beta-2adrenoreceptor) gene region that is specifically associated with the early onset form of BD with an OR of 1.8. Unfortunately, the genotyping coverage of ADRB2 in the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium sample meant undermined our efforts to undertake a replication. However, as the ADRB2 gene product directly interacts with the CACNA1C gene product, and is known to be implicated in BD susceptibility, we conclude that further exploration of the relationships between ADRB2 and BD needs to be undertaken.
The clinical presentation, course, and comorbidities of bipolar disorder type I are highly heterogeneous, and this variability remains poorly predictable. Certain onset characteristics (eg, age and polarity at onset) may delineate subgroups differing in clinical expression and outcome.
A number of epidemiological and genetic studies suggests an overlap of Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder across the traditional binary classification. AKT1 gene variants were previously shown to be associated with schizophrenia. In this study, our aim was to determine whether AKT1 gene variants are associated with particular phenotypes for schizophrenia (SCZ) and bipolar disorder (BPD).
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