Publications by authors named "Jari Lahti"

216 Publications

Identifying nootropic drug targets via large-scale cognitive GWAS and transcriptomics.

Neuropsychopharmacology 2021 May 25. Epub 2021 May 25.

Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA.

Broad-based cognitive deficits are an enduring and disabling symptom for many patients with severe mental illness, and these impairments are inadequately addressed by current medications. While novel drug targets for schizophrenia and depression have emerged from recent large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of these psychiatric disorders, GWAS of general cognitive ability can suggest potential targets for nootropic drug repurposing. Here, we (1) meta-analyze results from two recent cognitive GWAS to further enhance power for locus discovery; (2) employ several complementary transcriptomic methods to identify genes in these loci that are credibly associated with cognition; and (3) further annotate the resulting genes using multiple chemoinformatic databases to identify "druggable" targets. Using our meta-analytic data set (N = 373,617), we identified 241 independent cognition-associated loci (29 novel), and 76 genes were identified by 2 or more methods of gene identification. Actin and chromatin binding gene sets were identified as novel pathways that could be targeted via drug repurposing. Leveraging our transcriptomic and chemoinformatic databases, we identified 16 putative genes targeted by existing drugs potentially available for cognitive repurposing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41386-021-01023-4DOI Listing
May 2021

Maternal Hypertensive Pregnancy Disorders and Mental and Behavioral Disorders in the Offspring: a Review.

Curr Hypertens Rep 2021 05 13;23(5):30. Epub 2021 May 13.

Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Haartmaninkatu 3, P.O. Box 9, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

Purpose Of Review: We review here recent original research and meta-analytic evidence on the associations of maternal hypertensive pregnancy disorders and mental and behavioral disorders in the offspring.

Recent Findings: Seven meta-analyses and 11 of 16 original research studies published since 2015 showed significant associations between maternal hypertensive pregnancy disorders and offspring mental and behavioral disorders. Evidence was most consistent in meta-analyses and high-quality cohort studies. The associations, independent of familial confounding, were observed on different mental and behavioral disorders in childhood and schizophrenia in adulthood. Preterm birth and small-for-gestational age birth emerged as possible moderators and mediators of the associations. Cross-sectional and case-control studies yielded inconsistent findings, but had lower methodological quality. Accumulating evidence from methodologically sound studies shows that maternal hypertensive pregnancy disorders are associated with an increased risk of mental and behavioral disorders in the offspring in childhood. More studies on adult mental disorders are needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11906-021-01141-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8116290PMC
May 2021

Characteristics of epigenetic aging across gestational and perinatal tissues.

Clin Epigenetics 2021 Apr 29;13(1):97. Epub 2021 Apr 29.

Department of Translational Psychiatry, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, München, Germany.

Background: Epigenetic clocks have been used to indicate differences in biological states between individuals of same chronological age. However, so far, only few studies have examined epigenetic aging in newborns-especially regarding different gestational or perinatal tissues. In this study, we investigated which birth- and pregnancy-related variables are most important in predicting gestational epigenetic age acceleration or deceleration (i.e., the deviation between gestational epigenetic age estimated from the DNA methylome and chronological gestational age) in chorionic villus, placenta and cord blood tissues from two independent study cohorts (ITU, n = 639 and PREDO, n = 966). We further characterized the correspondence of epigenetic age deviations between these tissues.

Results: Among the most predictive factors of epigenetic age deviations in single tissues were child sex, birth length, maternal smoking during pregnancy, maternal mental disorders until childbirth, delivery mode and parity. However, the specific factors related to epigenetic age deviation and the direction of association differed across tissues. In individuals with samples available from more than one tissue, relative epigenetic age deviations were not correlated across tissues.

Conclusion: Gestational epigenetic age acceleration or deceleration was not related to more favorable or unfavorable factors in one direction in the investigated tissues, and the relative epigenetic age differed between tissues of the same person. This indicates that epigenetic age deviations associate with distinct, tissue specific, factors during the gestational and perinatal period. Our findings suggest that the epigenetic age of the newborn should be seen as a characteristic of a specific tissue, and less as a general characteristic of the child itself.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13148-021-01080-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8082803PMC
April 2021

An EPIC predictor of gestational age and its application to newborns conceived by assisted reproductive technologies.

Clin Epigenetics 2021 Apr 19;13(1):82. Epub 2021 Apr 19.

Centre for Fertility and Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway.

Background: Gestational age is a useful proxy for assessing developmental maturity, but correct estimation of gestational age is difficult using clinical measures. DNA methylation at birth has proven to be an accurate predictor of gestational age. Previous predictors of epigenetic gestational age were based on DNA methylation data from the Illumina HumanMethylation 27 K or 450 K array, which have subsequently been replaced by the Illumina MethylationEPIC 850 K array (EPIC). Our aims here were to build an epigenetic gestational age clock specific for the EPIC array and to evaluate its precision and accuracy using the embryo transfer date of newborns from the largest EPIC-derived dataset to date on assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

Methods: We built an epigenetic gestational age clock using Lasso regression trained on 755 randomly selected non-ART newborns from the Norwegian Study of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (START)-a substudy of the Norwegian Mother, Father, and Child Cohort Study (MoBa). For the ART-conceived newborns, the START dataset had detailed information on the embryo transfer date and the specific ART procedure used for conception. The predicted gestational age was compared to clinically estimated gestational age in 200 non-ART and 838 ART newborns using MM-type robust regression. The performance of the clock was compared to previously published gestational age clocks in an independent replication sample of 148 newborns from the Prediction and Prevention of Preeclampsia and Intrauterine Growth Restrictions (PREDO) study-a prospective pregnancy cohort of Finnish women.

Results: Our new epigenetic gestational age clock showed higher precision and accuracy in predicting gestational age than previous gestational age clocks (R = 0.724, median absolute deviation (MAD) = 3.14 days). Restricting the analysis to CpGs shared between 450 K and EPIC did not reduce the precision of the clock. Furthermore, validating the clock on ART newborns with known embryo transfer date confirmed that DNA methylation is an accurate predictor of gestational age (R = 0.767, MAD = 3.7 days).

Conclusions: We present the first EPIC-based predictor of gestational age and demonstrate its robustness and precision in ART and non-ART newborns. As more datasets are being generated on the EPIC platform, this clock will be valuable in studies using gestational age to assess neonatal development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13148-021-01055-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8056641PMC
April 2021

Reduced visual contrast suppression during major depressive episodes.

J Psychiatry Neurosci 2021 03 11;46(2):E222-E231. Epub 2021 Mar 11.

From the Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland (Salmela, Lahti); and the Department of Psychiatry, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland (Socada, Söderholm, Heikkilä, Ekelund, Isometsä).

Background: Previous studies have suggested that processing of visual contrast information could be altered in major depressive disorder. To clarify the changes at different levels of the visual hierarchy, we behaviourally measured contrast perception in 2 centre-surround conditions, assessing retinal and cortical processing.

Methods: As part of a prospective cohort study, our sample consisted of controls (n = 29; 21 female) and patients with unipolar depression, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder who had baseline major depressive episodes (n = 111; 74 female). In a brightness induction test that assessed retinal processing, participants compared the perceived luminance of uniform patches (presented on a computer screen) as the luminance of the backgrounds was varied. In a contrast suppression test that assessed cortical processing, participants compared the perceived contrast of gratings, which were presented with collinearly or orthogonally oriented backgrounds.

Results: Brightness induction was similar for patients with major depressive episodes and controls (p = 0.60, d = 0.115, Bayes factor = 3.9), but contrast suppression was significantly lower for patients than for controls (p < 0.006, d = 0.663, Bayes factor = 35.2). We observed no statistically significant associations between contrast suppression and age, sex, or medication or diagnostic subgroup. At follow-up (n = 74), we observed some normalization of contrast perception.

Limitations: We assessed contrast perception using behavioural tests instead of electrophysiology.

Conclusion: The reduced contrast suppression we observed may have been caused by decreased retinal feedforward or cortical feedback signals. Because we observed intact brightness induction, our results suggest normal retinal but altered cortical processing of visual contrast during a major depressive episode. This alteration is likely to be present in multiple types of depression and to partially normalize upon remission.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1503/jpn.200091DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8061742PMC
March 2021

Effectiveness and Predictors of Outcome for Psychotherapeutic Interventions in Clinical Settings Among Adolescents.

Front Psychol 2021 16;12:628977. Epub 2021 Feb 16.

Department of Adolescent Psychiatry, Helsinki University Hospital, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

Background: The aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic interventions for clinically referred adolescents, as well as to examine whether sociodemographic, clinical, or treatment-related variables and patients' role expectations predict treatment outcome or are possible predictors of treatment dropout.

Method: The study comprised 58 adolescents (mean age 14.2, 65.5% female) suffering from diverse psychiatric disorders referred to psychotherapeutic interventions conducted in outpatient care. The outcome measures, The Beck Depression Inventory, and the Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation - Outcome Measure were filled in at baseline and at 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-ups. Possible predictors were assessed at baseline.

Results: The results indicate that the mean level of symptoms and psychological distress decreased during the treatment, most reduction occurring in the first 6 months. The frequency of treatment sessions was the strongest predictor of good outcome. Adolescents with a higher level of externalizing problems or lower level of expectations for their own active role in treatment seem to have a higher risk of dropping out.

Conclusion: Offering intensive treatment for a shorter period might be the most efficient way to gain symptom reduction and decrease psychological distress in psychotherapeutic interventions with adolescents. Being aware of externalizing behavior and increasing the adolescents' own agency during the assessment could strengthen commitment and result in the adolescent benefiting more from treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.628977DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7921706PMC
February 2021

Combined effects of genotype and childhood adversity shape variability of DNA methylation across age.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 02 1;11(1):88. Epub 2021 Feb 1.

Department of Translational Research in Psychiatry, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Kraepelinstr. 2-10, 80804, Munich, Germany.

Lasting effects of adversity, such as exposure to childhood adversity (CA) on disease risk, may be embedded via epigenetic mechanisms but findings from human studies investigating the main effects of such exposure on epigenetic measures, including DNA methylation (DNAm), are inconsistent. Studies in perinatal tissues indicate that variability of DNAm at birth is best explained by the joint effects of genotype and prenatal environment. Here, we extend these analyses to postnatal stressors. We investigated the contribution of CA, cis genotype (G), and their additive (G + CA) and interactive (G × CA) effects to DNAm variability in blood or saliva from five independent cohorts with a total sample size of 1074 ranging in age from childhood to late adulthood. Of these, 541 were exposed to CA, which was assessed retrospectively using self-reports or verified through social services and registries. For the majority of sites (over 50%) in the adult cohorts, variability in DNAm was best explained by G + CA or G × CA but almost never by CA alone. Across ages and tissues, 1672 DNAm sites showed consistency of the best model in all five cohorts, with G × CA interactions explaining most variance. The consistent G × CA sites mapped to genes enriched in brain-specific transcripts and Gene Ontology terms related to development and synaptic function. Interaction of CA with genotypes showed the strongest contribution to DNAm variability, with stable effects across cohorts in functionally relevant genes. This underscores the importance of including genotype in studies investigating the impact of environmental factors on epigenetic marks.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-01147-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7851167PMC
February 2021

Genome-wide association study of circulating interleukin 6 levels identifies novel loci.

Hum Mol Genet 2021 Apr;30(5):393-409

Institute of Cardiovascular Science, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK.

Interleukin 6 (IL-6) is a multifunctional cytokine with both pro- and anti-inflammatory properties with a heritability estimate of up to 61%. The circulating levels of IL-6 in blood have been associated with an increased risk of complex disease pathogenesis. We conducted a two-staged, discovery and replication meta genome-wide association study (GWAS) of circulating serum IL-6 levels comprising up to 67 428 (ndiscovery = 52 654 and nreplication = 14 774) individuals of European ancestry. The inverse variance fixed effects based discovery meta-analysis, followed by replication led to the identification of two independent loci, IL1F10/IL1RN rs6734238 on chromosome (Chr) 2q14, (Pcombined = 1.8 × 10-11), HLA-DRB1/DRB5 rs660895 on Chr6p21 (Pcombined = 1.5 × 10-10) in the combined meta-analyses of all samples. We also replicated the IL6R rs4537545 locus on Chr1q21 (Pcombined = 1.2 × 10-122). Our study identifies novel loci for circulating IL-6 levels uncovering new immunological and inflammatory pathways that may influence IL-6 pathobiology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddab023DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8098112PMC
April 2021

Variation in the SERPINA6/SERPINA1 locus alters morning plasma cortisol, hepatic corticosteroid binding globulin expression, gene expression in peripheral tissues, and risk of cardiovascular disease.

J Hum Genet 2021 Jun 20;66(6):625-636. Epub 2021 Jan 20.

Centre for Global Health Research, Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG, Scotland.

The stress hormone cortisol modulates fuel metabolism, cardiovascular homoeostasis, mood, inflammation and cognition. The CORtisol NETwork (CORNET) consortium previously identified a single locus associated with morning plasma cortisol. Identifying additional genetic variants that explain more of the variance in cortisol could provide new insights into cortisol biology and provide statistical power to test the causative role of cortisol in common diseases. The CORNET consortium extended its genome-wide association meta-analysis for morning plasma cortisol from 12,597 to 25,314 subjects and from ~2.2 M to ~7 M SNPs, in 17 population-based cohorts of European ancestries. We confirmed the genetic association with SERPINA6/SERPINA1. This locus contains genes encoding corticosteroid binding globulin (CBG) and α1-antitrypsin. Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analyses undertaken in the STARNET cohort of 600 individuals showed that specific genetic variants within the SERPINA6/SERPINA1 locus influence expression of SERPINA6 rather than SERPINA1 in the liver. Moreover, trans-eQTL analysis demonstrated effects on adipose tissue gene expression, suggesting that variations in CBG levels have an effect on delivery of cortisol to peripheral tissues. Two-sample Mendelian randomisation analyses provided evidence that each genetically-determined standard deviation (SD) increase in morning plasma cortisol was associated with increased odds of chronic ischaemic heart disease (0.32, 95% CI 0.06-0.59) and myocardial infarction (0.21, 95% CI 0.00-0.43) in UK Biobank and similarly in CARDIoGRAMplusC4D. These findings reveal a causative pathway for CBG in determining cortisol action in peripheral tissues and thereby contributing to the aetiology of cardiovascular disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s10038-020-00895-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8144017PMC
June 2021

DNA methylation signatures of aggression and closely related constructs: A meta-analysis of epigenome-wide studies across the lifespan.

Mol Psychiatry 2021 Jan 8. Epub 2021 Jan 8.

Department of Clinical Chemistry, Fimlab Laboratories, and Finnish Cardiovascular Research Center-Tampere, Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology, Tampere University, Tampere, 33520, Finland.

DNA methylation profiles of aggressive behavior may capture lifetime cumulative effects of genetic, stochastic, and environmental influences associated with aggression. Here, we report the first large meta-analysis of epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS) of aggressive behavior (N = 15,324 participants). In peripheral blood samples of 14,434 participants from 18 cohorts with mean ages ranging from 7 to 68 years, 13 methylation sites were significantly associated with aggression (alpha = 1.2 × 10; Bonferroni correction). In cord blood samples of 2425 children from five cohorts with aggression assessed at mean ages ranging from 4 to 7 years, 83% of these sites showed the same direction of association with childhood aggression (r = 0.74, p = 0.006) but no epigenome-wide significant sites were found. Top-sites (48 at a false discovery rate of 5% in the peripheral blood meta-analysis or in a combined meta-analysis of peripheral blood and cord blood) have been associated with chemical exposures, smoking, cognition, metabolic traits, and genetic variation (mQTLs). Three genes whose expression levels were associated with top-sites were previously linked to schizophrenia and general risk tolerance. At six CpGs, DNA methylation variation in blood mirrors variation in the brain. On average 44% (range = 3-82%) of the aggression-methylation association was explained by current and former smoking and BMI. These findings point at loci that are sensitive to chemical exposures with potential implications for neuronal functions. We hope these results to be a starting point for studies leading to applications as peripheral biomarkers and to reveal causal relationships with aggression and related traits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-020-00987-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8263810PMC
January 2021

Maternal anxiety during pregnancy and newborn epigenome-wide DNA methylation.

Mol Psychiatry 2021 Jan 7. Epub 2021 Jan 7.

Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Generation R Study Group, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Maternal anxiety during pregnancy is associated with adverse foetal, neonatal, and child outcomes, but biological mechanisms remain unclear. Altered foetal DNA methylation (DNAm) has been proposed as a potential underlying mechanism. In the current study, we performed a meta-analysis to examine the associations between maternal anxiety, measured prospectively during pregnancy, and genome-wide DNAm from umbilical cord blood. Sixteen non-overlapping cohorts from 12 independent longitudinal studies of the Pregnancy And Childhood Epigenetics Consortium participated, resulting in a combined dataset of 7243 mother-child dyads. We examined prenatal anxiety in relation to genome-wide DNAm and differentially methylated regions. We observed no association between the general symptoms of anxiety during pregnancy or pregnancy-related anxiety, and DNAm at any of the CpG sites, after multiple-testing correction. Furthermore, we identify no differentially methylated regions associated with maternal anxiety. At the cohort-level, of the 21 associations observed in individual cohorts, none replicated consistently in the other cohorts. In conclusion, contrary to some previous studies proposing cord blood DNAm as a promising potential mechanism explaining the link between maternal anxiety during pregnancy and adverse outcomes in offspring, we found no consistent evidence for any robust associations between maternal anxiety and DNAm in cord blood. Larger studies and analysis of DNAm in other tissues may be needed to establish subtle or subgroup-specific associations between maternal anxiety and the foetal epigenome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-020-00976-0DOI Listing
January 2021

A polyepigenetic glucocorticoid exposure score at birth and childhood mental and behavioral disorders.

Neurobiol Stress 2020 Nov 21;13:100275. Epub 2020 Nov 21.

Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland.

Background: Maternal depression and anxiety during pregnancy may enhance fetal exposure to glucocorticoids (GCs) and harm neurodevelopment. We tested whether a novel cross-tissue polyepigenetic biomarker indicative of exposure to GC is associated with mental and behavioral disorders and their severity in children, possibly mediating the associations between maternal prenatal depressive and anxiety symptoms and these child outcomes.

Methods: Children (n = 814) from the Prediction and Prevention of Preeclampsia and Intrauterine Growth Restriction (PREDO) study were followed-up from birth to age 7.1-10.7 years. A weighted polyepigenetic GC exposure score was calculated based on the methylation profile of 24 CpGs from umbilical cord blood. Child diagnosis of mental and behavioral disorder (n = 99) and its severity, defined as the number of days the child had received treatment (all 99 had received outpatient treatment and 8 had been additionally in inpatient treatment) for mental or behavioral disorder as the primary diagnosis, came from the Care Register for Health Care. Mothers (n = 408) reported on child total behavior problems at child's age of 2.3-5.8 years and their own depressive and anxiety symptoms during pregnancy (n = 583).

Results: The fetal polyepigenetic GC exposure score at birth was not associated with child hazard of mental and behavioral disorder (HR = 0.82, 95% CI 0.54; 1.24, p = 0.35) or total behavior problems (unstandardized beta = -0.10, 95% CI -0.31; 0.10, p = 0.33). However, for one standard deviation decrease in the polyepigenetic score, the child had spent 2.94 (95%CI 1.59; 5.45, p < 0.001) more days in inpatient or outpatient treatment with any mental and behavioral disorder as the primary diagnosis. Criteria for mediation tests were not met.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that fetal polyepigenetic GC exposure score at birth was not associated with any mental or behavioral disorder diagnosis or mother-rated total behavior problems, but it may contribute to identifying children at birth who are at risk for more severe mental or behavioral disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ynstr.2020.100275DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7739178PMC
November 2020

Maternal haemoglobin levels in pregnancy and child DNA methylation: a study in the pregnancy and childhood epigenetics consortium.

Epigenetics 2021 Jan 11:1-13. Epub 2021 Jan 11.

Department of Immunobiochemistry, National Institute of Perinatology, Mexico City, Mexico.

Altered maternal haemoglobin levels during pregnancy are associated with pre-clinical and clinical conditions affecting the fetus. Evidence from animal models suggests that these associations may be partially explained by differential DNA methylation in the newborn with possible long-term consequences. To test this in humans, we meta-analyzed the epigenome-wide associations of maternal haemoglobin levels during pregnancy with offspring DNA methylation in 3,967 newborn cord blood and 1,534 children and 1,962 adolescent whole-blood samples derived from 10 cohorts. DNA methylation was measured using Illumina Infinium Methylation 450K or MethylationEPIC arrays covering 450,000 and 850,000 methylation sites, respectively. There was no statistical support for the association of maternal haemoglobin levels with offspring DNA methylation either at individual methylation sites or clustered in regions. For most participants, maternal haemoglobin levels were within the normal range in the current study, whereas adverse perinatal outcomes often arise at the extremes. Thus, this study does not rule out the possibility that associations with offspring DNA methylation might be seen in studies with more extreme maternal haemoglobin levels.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15592294.2020.1864171DOI Listing
January 2021

The association between sleep-wake ratio and overnight picture recognition is moderated by BDNF genotype.

Neurobiol Learn Mem 2021 01 27;177:107353. Epub 2020 Nov 27.

Sleepwell Research Program, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 9, 00014 Helsinki, Finland. Electronic address:

A wealth of studies supports the role of sleep in memory performance. Experimentally controlled studies indicate that prolonged wake after memory encoding is detrimental for memory outcome whereas sleep protects from wake-time interference and promotes memory consolidation. We examined how the natural distribution of wake and sleep between encoding and retrieval associated with overnight picture recognition accuracy among 161 adolescents following their typical sleep schedule with an in-home polysomnography. The memorized pictures varied in their level of arousal (calm to exciting) and valence (negative to positive). Suspecting genotypic influence on the sensitivity for sleep/wake dynamics, we also assessed if these associations were affected by known gene polymorphisms involved in neural plasticity and sleep homeostasis: brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) Val66Met and Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) Val158Met. In the whole sample, overnight recognition accuracy was associated with the levels of arousal and valence of the pictures, but not with sleep percentage (i.e. the percentage of time spent asleep between memory encoding and retrieval). While the allelic status of BDNF or COMT did not have any main effect on recognition accuracy, a significant moderation by BDNF Val66Met was found (p = .004): the subgroup homozygous for valine allele showed positive association between sleep percentage and recognition accuracy. This was underlain by detrimental influence of wake, rather than by any memory benefit of sleep. Our results complement the mounting evidence that the relation between sleep and memory performance is moderated by BDNF Val66Met. Further studies are needed to clarify the specific mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nlm.2020.107353DOI Listing
January 2021

DNA methylation and body mass index from birth to adolescence: meta-analyses of epigenome-wide association studies.

Genome Med 2020 11 25;12(1):105. Epub 2020 Nov 25.

University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Department of Epidemiology, Groningen, the Netherlands.

Background: DNA methylation has been shown to be associated with adiposity in adulthood. However, whether similar DNA methylation patterns are associated with childhood and adolescent body mass index (BMI) is largely unknown. More insight into this relationship at younger ages may have implications for future prevention of obesity and its related traits.

Methods: We examined whether DNA methylation in cord blood and whole blood in childhood and adolescence was associated with BMI in the age range from 2 to 18 years using both cross-sectional and longitudinal models. We performed meta-analyses of epigenome-wide association studies including up to 4133 children from 23 studies. We examined the overlap of findings reported in previous studies in children and adults with those in our analyses and calculated enrichment.

Results: DNA methylation at three CpGs (cg05937453, cg25212453, and cg10040131), each in a different age range, was associated with BMI at Bonferroni significance, P < 1.06 × 10, with a 0.96 standard deviation score (SDS) (standard error (SE) 0.17), 0.32 SDS (SE 0.06), and 0.32 BMI SDS (SE 0.06) higher BMI per 10% increase in methylation, respectively. DNA methylation at nine additional CpGs in the cross-sectional childhood model was associated with BMI at false discovery rate significance. The strength of the associations of DNA methylation at the 187 CpGs previously identified to be associated with adult BMI, increased with advancing age across childhood and adolescence in our analyses. In addition, correlation coefficients between effect estimates for those CpGs in adults and in children and adolescents also increased. Among the top findings for each age range, we observed increasing enrichment for the CpGs that were previously identified in adults (birth P = 1; childhood P = 2.00 × 10; adolescence P = 2.10 × 10).

Conclusions: There were only minimal associations of DNA methylation with childhood and adolescent BMI. With the advancing age of the participants across childhood and adolescence, we observed increasing overlap with altered DNA methylation loci reported in association with adult BMI. These findings may be compatible with the hypothesis that DNA methylation differences are mostly a consequence rather than a cause of obesity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13073-020-00810-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7687793PMC
November 2020

Association between DNA methylation and ADHD symptoms from birth to school age: a prospective meta-analysis.

Transl Psychiatry 2020 11 12;10(1):398. Epub 2020 Nov 12.

Clinical Child & Family Studies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common childhood disorder with a substantial genetic component. However, the extent to which epigenetic mechanisms play a role in the etiology of the disorder is unknown. We performed epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS) within the Pregnancy And Childhood Epigenetics (PACE) Consortium to identify DNA methylation sites associated with ADHD symptoms at two methylation assessment periods: birth and school age. We examined associations of both DNA methylation in cord blood with repeatedly assessed ADHD symptoms (age 4-15 years) in 2477 children from 5 cohorts and of DNA methylation at school age with concurrent ADHD symptoms (age 7-11 years) in 2374 children from 9 cohorts, with 3 cohorts participating at both timepoints. CpGs identified with nominal significance (p < 0.05) in either of the EWAS were correlated between timepoints (ρ = 0.30), suggesting overlap in associations; however, top signals were very different. At birth, we identified nine CpGs that predicted later ADHD symptoms (p < 1 × 10), including ERC2 and CREB5. Peripheral blood DNA methylation at one of these CpGs (cg01271805 in the promoter region of ERC2, which regulates neurotransmitter release) was previously associated with brain methylation. Another (cg25520701) lies within the gene body of CREB5, which previously was associated with neurite outgrowth and an ADHD diagnosis. In contrast, at school age, no CpGs were associated with ADHD with p < 1 × 10. In conclusion, we found evidence in this study that DNA methylation at birth is associated with ADHD. Future studies are needed to confirm the utility of methylation variation as biomarker and its involvement in causal pathways.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-01058-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7665047PMC
November 2020

Carriership of two copies of C9orf72 hexanucleotide repeat intermediate-length alleles is a risk factor for ALS in the Finnish population.

Acta Neuropathol Commun 2020 11 9;8(1):187. Epub 2020 Nov 9.

Translational Immunology, Research Programs Unit, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

The hexanucleotide repeat expansion in intron 1 of the C9orf72 gene causes amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia. In addition to the effects of the pathogenic expansion, a role of intermediate-length alleles has been suggested in ALS, corticobasal degeneration and Parkinson's disease. Due to the rarity of intermediate-length alleles with over 20 repeats and the geographical variability in their frequency, large studies that account for population stratification are needed to elucidate their effects. To this aim, we used repeat-primed PCR and confirmatory PCR assays to determine the C9orf72 repeat allele lengths in 705 ALS patients and 3958 controls from Finland. After exclusion of expansion carriers (25.5% of the ALS patients and 0.2% of the controls), we compared the frequency of intermediate-length allele carriers of 525 ALS cases and 3950 controls using several intermediate-length allele thresholds (7-45, 17-45, 21-45, 24-45 and 24-30). The carriership of an intermediate-length allele did not associate with ALS (Fisher's test, all p ≥ 0.15) nor was there any association with survival (p ≥ 0.33), when we divided our control group into three age groups (18-65, 66-84 and 85-105 years). Carriership of two intermediate-length alleles was associated with ALS, when the longer allele was ≥ 17 repeats (p = 0.002, OR 5.32 95% CI 2.02-14.05) or ≥ 21 repeats (p = 0.00016, OR 15.21 95% CI 3.79-61.0). Our results show that intermediate-length alleles are a risk factor of ALS when present in both alleles, whereas carrying just one intermediate-length allele was not associated with ALS or survival.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40478-020-01059-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7654028PMC
November 2020

Genome-wide association study identifies 48 common genetic variants associated with handedness.

Nat Hum Behav 2021 01 28;5(1):59-70. Epub 2020 Sep 28.

Institute of Biological Psychiatry, Mental Health Services of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Handedness has been extensively studied because of its relationship with language and the over-representation of left-handers in some neurodevelopmental disorders. Using data from the UK Biobank, 23andMe and the International Handedness Consortium, we conducted a genome-wide association meta-analysis of handedness (N = 1,766,671). We found 41 loci associated (P < 5 × 10) with left-handedness and 7 associated with ambidexterity. Tissue-enrichment analysis implicated the CNS in the aetiology of handedness. Pathways including regulation of microtubules and brain morphology were also highlighted. We found suggestive positive genetic correlations between left-handedness and neuropsychiatric traits, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Furthermore, the genetic correlation between left-handedness and ambidexterity is low (r = 0.26), which implies that these traits are largely influenced by different genetic mechanisms. Our findings suggest that handedness is highly polygenic and that the genetic variants that predispose to left-handedness may underlie part of the association with some psychiatric disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-00956-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7116623PMC
January 2021

Maternal antenatal stress and mental and behavioral disorders in their children.

J Affect Disord 2021 01 15;278:57-65. Epub 2020 Sep 15.

Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland.

Background: Maternal antenatal stress, including symptoms of depression, anxiety and perceived stress, is associated with mental and behavioral problems in children. Whether it is associated with child mental and behavioral disorders remains uncertain. We examined if maternal antenatal symptoms of depression, anxiety and perceived stress were associated with mental and behavioral disorders in their children, if the associations varied according to gestational week, stress type, fluctuating or consistently high symptoms, and if they were driven by maternal or paternal lifetime mood or anxiety disorders.

Methods: 3365 mothers participating in the Prediction and Prevention of Preeclampsia and Intrauterine Growth Restriction (PREDO) study completed the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, the State Anxiety Inventory and the Perceived Stress Scale up to 14 times throughout pregnancy. The Care Register for Health Care provided data on mental and behavioral (including neurodevelopmental) disorders for their children from birth (11/07/2006-07/24/2010) until 12/31/2016 and for parental lifetime mood and anxiety disorders until 12/31/2016.

Results: The hazard of any childhood mental and behavioral disorder (HR=1.91, 95% CI: 1.39-2.51) was significantly higher for children whose mothers reported consistently high in comparison to consistently low levels of all types of stress throughout pregnancy. The associations remained significant when adjusted for maternal and paternal lifetime mood and anxiety disorders (and their comorbidity and timing and mood disorder type).

Conclusion: Maternal antenatal stress is associated with higher risk of childhood mental and behavioral disorders. Efforts to reduce maternal antenatal stress should be given a high priority to improve child mental health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2020.09.063DOI Listing
January 2021

Migrants Are Underrepresented in Mental Health and Rehabilitation Services-Survey and Register-Based Findings of Russian, Somali, and Kurdish Origin Adults in Finland.

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2020 08 27;17(17). Epub 2020 Aug 27.

Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, 00271 Helsinki, Finland.

Mounting evidence suggests that migration background increases the risk of mental ill health, but that problems exist in accessing healthcare services in people of migrant origin. The present study uses a combination of register- and survey-based data to examine mental health-related health service use in three migrant origin populations as well as the correspondence between the need and use of services. The data are from the Finnish Migrant Health and Wellbeing Study (Maamu), a comprehensive cross-sectional interview and a health examination survey. A random sample consisted of 5909 working-aged adults of Russian, Somali, and Kurdish origin of which 3000 were invited to participate in the survey and the rest were drawn for a register-based approach. Some of the mental health services, based on registers, were more prevalent in the Kurdish origin group in comparison with the general population and less prevalent in the Russian and Somali origin groups. All the migrant origin groups were underrepresented in rehabilitation services. When affective symptoms were taken into account, all the migrant origin groups were underrepresented in all of the services. This calls for actions to promote mental health, diminish the barriers to access services, and improve the service paths for migrants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17176223DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7504052PMC
August 2020

Eveningness associates with lower physical activity from pre- to late adolescence.

Sleep Med 2020 10 21;74:189-198. Epub 2020 Jul 21.

Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; SleepWell Research Program, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

Objective: Adolescence is often associated with decline in physical activity (PA) and a circadian shift towards eveningness, but it is not known whether these transitions are intertwined. We explored longitudinally and in cross-section how chronotype and genetic liability for morningness associate with PA as self-reported and measured by actigraphy in early and late adolescence.

Methods: Our sample comes from a longitudinal Finnish community-cohort born in 1998 with information on actigraph-based PA and objectively measured sleep-wake rhythm based on midpoint of sleep at ages 12 (N = 353, girls = 187) and 17 (N = 171, girls = 98). Information on self-reported circadian preference and subjective PA was available at age 17. The summarized genetic effects of multiple single nucleotide polymorphism for morningness was assessed by calculating polygenic score (PGS) based on the results on a recent genome-wide association study (GWAS).

Results: PA declined by 40% (p < 0.0001) in boys and by 32% in girls (p < 0.0001) from age 12 to 17. Later midpoint of sleep correlated significantly with lower level of general, light and moderate to vigorous PA only at age 12 (all p < 0.05) but not at age 17 (all p ≥ 0.36). However, those with circadian preference more towards eveningness at age 17 had more sedentary behavior (p < 0.01) and a lower level of general (p = 0.01), light (p < 0.01) and moderate to vigorous PA (p < 0.05). They also had poorer subjective assessment of their fitness level (p < 0.01) and they exercised less (all p ≤ 0.05). The decline in objectively measured PA and increase in sedentary behavior from age 12 to 17 was emphasized among those with circadian preference towards eveningness (p < 0.05). PGS for morningness was not significantly associated with PA in adolescence (all p ≥ 0.13).

Conclusions: Findings of this study highlighted the influence of circadian preference on physical activity behavior in adolescence. Self-assessed circadian preference towards eveningness associated with lower PA and greater decline of it during adolescence. Furthermore, PA declined significantly especially among boys from early to late adolescence. Interventions encouraging physical activity should target specifically evening-oriented adolescents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2020.07.021DOI Listing
October 2020

Scheduled Telephone Support for Internet Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression in Patients at Risk for Dropout: Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial.

J Med Internet Res 2020 07 23;22(7):e15732. Epub 2020 Jul 23.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, Helsinki, Finland.

Background: Therapist-supported, internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT) is efficient in the treatment of depression. However, the optimal mode and intensity of therapist support remain to be identified. Scheduled telephone support (STS) may improve adherence and outcomes but, as it is time- and resource-consuming, should be reserved for patients for whom the usual support may be insufficient.

Objective: This paper aims to reveal whether add-on STS for patients at risk of dropping out improves treatment adherence and symptoms in iCBT for depression.

Methods: Among patients participating in an ongoing large observational routine clinical practice study of iCBT for depression delivered nationwide by Helsinki University Hospital (HUS-iCBT), those demonstrating a ≥14-day delay in initiation of treatment received invitations to this subsidiary STS study. A total of 100 consenting patients were randomly allocated to either HUS-iCBT as usual (control group, n=50) or HUS-iCBT plus add-on STS (intervention group, n=50). Proportions of those reaching midtreatment and treatment end point served as the primary outcome; secondary outcomes were change in Beck Depression Inventory (BDI)-measured depressive symptoms and time spent in treatment.

Results: Add-on STS raised the proportion of patients reaching midtreatment compared with HUS-iCBT as usual (29/50, 58% vs 18/50, 36%; P=.045) and treatment end point (12/50, 24% vs 3/50, 6%; P=.02). Change in BDI score also favored add-on STS (3.63 points vs 1.1 points; P=.049), whereas duration of treatment did not differ.

Conclusions: Add-on STS enhances adherence and symptom improvement of patients at risk of dropping out of iCBT for depression in routine clinical practice.

Trial Registration: International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN) 55123131; http://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN55123131.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/15732DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7413288PMC
July 2020

Polygenic prediction of the risk of perinatal depressive symptoms.

Depress Anxiety 2020 09 5;37(9):862-875. Epub 2020 Jul 5.

Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

Background: Perinatal depression carries adverse effects on maternal health and child development, but genetic underpinnings remain unclear. We investigated the polygenic risk of perinatal depressive symptoms.

Methods: About 742 women from the prospective Prediction and Prevention of Pre-eclampsia and Intrauterine Growth Restriction cohort were genotyped and completed the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale 14 times during the prenatal period and twice up to 12 months postpartum. Polygenic risk scores for major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and cross-disorder were calculated using multiple p-value thresholds.

Results: Polygenic risk scores for major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, and cross-disorder, but not bipolar disorder, were associated with higher prenatal and postpartum depressive symptoms (0.8%-1% increase per one standard deviation increase in polygenic risk scores). Prenatal depressive symptoms accounted for and mediated the associations between the polygenic risk scores and postpartum depressive symptoms (effect size proportions-mediated: 52.2%-88.0%). Further, the polygenic risk scores were associated with 1.24-1.45-fold odds to belong to the group displaying consistently high compared with consistently low depressive symptoms through out the prenatal and postpartum periods.

Conclusions: Polygenic risk scores for major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, and cross-disorder in non-perinatal populations generalize to perinatal depressive symptoms and may afford to identify women for timely preventive interventions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/da.23066DOI Listing
September 2020

Identification, Heritability, and Relation With Gene Expression of Novel DNA Methylation Loci for Blood Pressure.

Hypertension 2020 07 10;76(1):195-205. Epub 2020 Jun 10.

Department of Endocrinology (B.H.R.W., J.V.v.V.-O.), University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

We conducted an epigenome-wide association study meta-analysis on blood pressure (BP) in 4820 individuals of European and African ancestry aged 14 to 69. Genome-wide DNA methylation data from peripheral leukocytes were obtained using the Infinium Human Methylation 450k BeadChip. The epigenome-wide association study meta-analysis identified 39 BP-related CpG sites with <1×10. In silico replication in the CHARGE consortium of 17 010 individuals validated 16 of these CpG sites. Out of the 16 CpG sites, 13 showed novel association with BP. Conversely, out of the 126 CpG sites identified as being associated (<1×10) with BP in the CHARGE consortium, 21 were replicated in the current study. Methylation levels of all the 34 CpG sites that were cross-validated by the current study and the CHARGE consortium were heritable and 6 showed association with gene expression. Furthermore, 9 CpG sites also showed association with BP with <0.05 and consistent direction of the effect in the meta-analysis of the Finnish Twin Cohort (199 twin pairs and 4 singletons; 61% monozygous) and the Netherlands Twin Register (266 twin pairs and 62 singletons; 84% monozygous). Bivariate quantitative genetic modeling of the twin data showed that a majority of the phenotypic correlations between methylation levels of these CpG sites and BP could be explained by shared unique environmental rather than genetic factors, with 100% of the correlations of systolic BP with cg19693031 () and cg00716257 () determined by environmental effects acting on both systolic BP and methylation levels.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.120.14973DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7295009PMC
July 2020

Early exposure to social disadvantages and later life body mass index beyond genetic predisposition in three generations of Finnish birth cohorts.

BMC Public Health 2020 May 18;20(1):708. Epub 2020 May 18.

Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, P.O.Box 5000, Fin-90014, Oulu, Finland.

Background: The study aimed to explore the association between early life and life-course exposure to social disadvantage and later life body mass index (BMI) accounting for genetic predisposition and maternal BMI.

Methods: We studied participants of Helsinki Birth Cohort Study born in 1934-1944 (HBCS1934-1944, n = 1277) and Northern Finland Birth Cohorts born in 1966 and 1986 (NFBC1966, n = 5807, NFBC1986, n = 6717). Factor analysis produced scores of social disadvantage based on social and economic elements in early life and adulthood/over the life course, and was categorized as high, intermediate and low. BMI was measured at 62 years in HBCS1934-1944, at 46 years in NFBC1966 and at 16 years in NFBC1986. Multivariable linear regression analysis was used to explore associations between social disadvantages and BMI after adjustments for polygenic risk score for BMI (PRS BMI), maternal BMI and sex.

Results: The association between exposure to high early social disadvantage and increased later life BMI persisted after adjustments (β = 0.79, 95% CI, 0.33, 1.25, p < 0.001) in NFBC1966. In NFBC1986 this association was attenuated by PRS BMI (p = 0.181), and in HBCS1934-1944 there was no association between high early social disadvantage and increased later life BMI (β 0.22, 95% CI -0.91,1.35, p = 0.700). In HBCS1934-1944 and NFBC1966, participants who had reduced their exposure to social disadvantage during the life-course had lower later life BMI than those who had increased their exposure (β - 1.34, [- 2.37,-0.31], p = 0.011; β - 0.46, [- 0.89,-0.03], p = 0.038, respectively).

Conclusions: High social disadvantage in early life appears to be associated with higher BMI in later life. Reducing exposure to social disadvantage during the life-course may be a potential pathway for obesity reduction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-08763-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7236362PMC
May 2020

Cord blood DNA methylation reflects cord blood C-reactive protein levels but not maternal levels: a longitudinal study and meta-analysis.

Clin Epigenetics 2020 04 30;12(1):60. Epub 2020 Apr 30.

Epidemiology Branch, Division of Intramural Population Health Research, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 6710B Rockledge Dr, MSC 7004, Bethesda, MD, 20817, USA.

Background: Prenatal inflammation has been proposed as an important mediating factor in several adverse pregnancy outcomes. C-reactive protein (CRP) is an inflammatory cytokine easily measured in blood. It has clinical value due to its reliability as a biomarker for systemic inflammation and can indicate cellular injury and disease severity. Elevated levels of CRP in adulthood are associated with alterations in DNA methylation. However, no studies have prospectively investigated the relationship between maternal CRP levels and newborn DNA methylation measured by microarray in cord blood with reasonable epigenome-wide coverage. Importantly, the timing of inflammation exposure during pregnancy may also result in different effects. Thus, our objective was to evaluate this prospective association of CRP levels measured during multiple periods of pregnancy and in cord blood at delivery which was available in one cohort (i.e., Effects of Aspirin in Gestation and Reproduction trial), and also to conduct a meta-analysis with available data at one point in pregnancy from three other cohorts from the Pregnancy And Childhood Epigenetics consortium (PACE). Secondarily, the impact of maternal randomization to low dose aspirin prior to pregnancy on methylation was assessed.

Results: Maternal CRP levels were not associated with newborn DNA methylation regardless of gestational age of measurement (i.e., CRP at approximately 8, 20, and 36 weeks among 358 newborns in EAGeR). There also was no association in the meta-analyses (all p > 0.5) with a larger sample size (n = 1603) from all participating PACE cohorts with available CRP data from first trimester (< 18 weeks gestation). Randomization to aspirin was not associated with DNA methylation. On the other hand, newborn CRP levels were significantly associated with DNA methylation in the EAGeR trial, with 33 CpGs identified (FDR corrected p < 0.05) when both CRP and methylation were measured at the same time point in cord blood. The top 7 CpGs most strongly associated with CRP resided in inflammation and vascular-related genes.

Conclusions: Maternal CRP levels measured during each trimester were not associated with cord blood DNA methylation. Rather, DNA methylation was associated with CRP levels measured in cord blood, particularly in gene regions predominately associated with angiogenic and inflammatory pathways.

Trial Registration: Clinicaltrials.gov, NCT00467363, Registered April 30, 2007, http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00467363.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13148-020-00852-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7193358PMC
April 2020

Maternal Hypertensive Pregnancy Disorders and Mental Disorders in Children.

Hypertension 2020 06 20;75(6):1429-1438. Epub 2020 Apr 20.

From the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychology and Logopedics, University of Helsinki, Finland (M.L.-P., P.G., S.T., S.S., J. Lahti, K.H., J. Lipsanen, H.L., K.R.).

The associations of maternal hypertensive pregnancy disorders with offspring mental disorders remain unclear. We examined whether maternal hypertensive disorders and maximum blood pressure during pregnancy predict offspring childhood mental disorders, whether the associations are independent of maternal and paternal mental disorders and paternal hypertensive disorders, independent of or additive with maternal early pregnancy overweight/obesity and diabetes mellitus disorders, and mediated or moderated by preterm birth, small-for-gestational-age birth and neonatal intensive care unit admission. Our prospective study comprised 4743 mother-child dyads of Prediction and Prevention of Preeclampsia and Intrauterine Growth Restriction study. Women were recruited to the study in early pregnancy at Finnish maternity hospitals. Children were born 2006 to 2010 and followed-up until December 31, 2016, to ages 6.4 to 10.8 years. Hypertensive pregnancy disorders were identified from medical records, Medical Birth Register, and Care Register for Health Care. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure were measured at antenatal clinics and hospital visits. Mental disorder diagnoses were identified from Care Register for Health Care. Maternal gestational and chronic hypertension, preeclampsia and its severity increased offspring hazard of any childhood mental disorder. The associations of preeclampsia (hazard ratio=1.66 [95% CI, 1.14-2.42]) and severe preeclampsia (hazard ratio=2.01 [95% CI, 1.08-3.73]) were independent of all covariates. Maternal hypertensive and diabetes mellitus disorders and overweight/obesity also additively increased offspring hazard of mental disorders. Preterm and small-for-gestational-age births and neonatal intensive care unit admission partially mediated the effects of any and severe preeclampsia on offspring mental disorders. To conclude, maternal hypertensive pregnancy disorders carry adverse consequences for offspring mental health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.119.14140DOI Listing
June 2020

Epigenome-wide meta-analysis of blood DNA methylation in newborns and children identifies numerous loci related to gestational age.

Genome Med 2020 03 2;12(1):25. Epub 2020 Mar 2.

Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke (CHUS), Sherbrooke, QC, Canada.

Background: Preterm birth and shorter duration of pregnancy are associated with increased morbidity in neonatal and later life. As the epigenome is known to have an important role during fetal development, we investigated associations between gestational age and blood DNA methylation in children.

Methods: We performed meta-analysis of Illumina's HumanMethylation450-array associations between gestational age and cord blood DNA methylation in 3648 newborns from 17 cohorts without common pregnancy complications, induced delivery or caesarean section. We also explored associations of gestational age with DNA methylation measured at 4-18 years in additional pediatric cohorts. Follow-up analyses of DNA methylation and gene expression correlations were performed in cord blood. DNA methylation profiles were also explored in tissues relevant for gestational age health effects: fetal brain and lung.

Results: We identified 8899 CpGs in cord blood that were associated with gestational age (range 27-42 weeks), at Bonferroni significance, P < 1.06 × 10, of which 3343 were novel. These were annotated to 4966 genes. After restricting findings to at least three significant adjacent CpGs, we identified 1276 CpGs annotated to 325 genes. Results were generally consistent when analyses were restricted to term births. Cord blood findings tended not to persist into childhood and adolescence. Pathway analyses identified enrichment for biological processes critical to embryonic development. Follow-up of identified genes showed correlations between gestational age and DNA methylation levels in fetal brain and lung tissue, as well as correlation with expression levels.

Conclusions: We identified numerous CpGs differentially methylated in relation to gestational age at birth that appear to reflect fetal developmental processes across tissues. These findings may contribute to understanding mechanisms linking gestational age to health effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13073-020-0716-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7050134PMC
March 2020

Shared genetic risk between eating disorder- and substance-use-related phenotypes: Evidence from genome-wide association studies.

Addict Biol 2021 01 16;26(1):e12880. Epub 2020 Feb 16.

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.

Eating disorders and substance use disorders frequently co-occur. Twin studies reveal shared genetic variance between liabilities to eating disorders and substance use, with the strongest associations between symptoms of bulimia nervosa and problem alcohol use (genetic correlation [r ], twin-based = 0.23-0.53). We estimated the genetic correlation between eating disorder and substance use and disorder phenotypes using data from genome-wide association studies (GWAS). Four eating disorder phenotypes (anorexia nervosa [AN], AN with binge eating, AN without binge eating, and a bulimia nervosa factor score), and eight substance-use-related phenotypes (drinks per week, alcohol use disorder [AUD], smoking initiation, current smoking, cigarettes per day, nicotine dependence, cannabis initiation, and cannabis use disorder) from eight studies were included. Significant genetic correlations were adjusted for variants associated with major depressive disorder and schizophrenia. Total study sample sizes per phenotype ranged from ~2400 to ~537 000 individuals. We used linkage disequilibrium score regression to calculate single nucleotide polymorphism-based genetic correlations between eating disorder- and substance-use-related phenotypes. Significant positive genetic associations emerged between AUD and AN (r = 0.18; false discovery rate q = 0.0006), cannabis initiation and AN (r = 0.23; q < 0.0001), and cannabis initiation and AN with binge eating (r = 0.27; q = 0.0016). Conversely, significant negative genetic correlations were observed between three nondiagnostic smoking phenotypes (smoking initiation, current smoking, and cigarettes per day) and AN without binge eating (r = -0.19 to -0.23; qs < 0.04). The genetic correlation between AUD and AN was no longer significant after co-varying for major depressive disorder loci. The patterns of association between eating disorder- and substance-use-related phenotypes highlights the potentially complex and substance-specific relationships among these behaviors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/adb.12880DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7429266PMC
January 2021

Persistently High Levels of Maternal Antenatal Inflammation Are Associated With and Mediate the Effect of Prenatal Environmental Adversities on Neurodevelopmental Delay in the Offspring.

Biol Psychiatry 2020 05 13;87(10):898-907. Epub 2019 Dec 13.

Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

Background: Prenatal exposure to environmental adversities, including maternal overweight/obesity, diabetes/hypertensive disorders, or mood/anxiety disorders, increases the risk for adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in children. However, the underlying biological mechanisms remain elusive. We tested whether maternal antenatal inflammation was associated with the number of neurodevelopmental delay areas in children and whether it mediated the association between exposure to any prenatal environmental adversity and child neurodevelopmental delay.

Methods: Mother-child dyads (N = 418) from the PREDO (Prediction and Prevention of Preeclampsia and Intrauterine Growth Restriction) study were followed up to 10.8 years. We analyzed maternal plasma high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and glycoprotein acetyls at 3 consecutive antenatal time points, measured maternal body mass index in early pregnancy, extracted data on diabetes/hypertensive disorders in pregnancy from medical records, and extracted data on mood/anxiety disorders until childbirth from the Care Register for Health Care. To estimate the number of neurodevelopmental delay areas in children across cognitive, motor, and social functioning, we pooled data from the Care Register for Health Care on psychological development disorders with mother-reported Ages and Stages Questionnaire data on developmental milestones.

Results: Higher levels of maternal high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and glycoprotein acetyls at and across all 3 antenatal time points were associated with 1.30- to 2.36-fold (p values < .02) increased relative risk for higher number of areas of child neurodevelopmental delay. Higher maternal inflammation across the 3 time points also mediated the effect of any prenatal environmental adversity on child neurodevelopmental delay.

Conclusions: Higher levels of maternal inflammation, especially when persisting throughout pregnancy, increase a child's risk of neurodevelopmental delay and mediate the effect of prenatal environmental adversity on child neurodevelopmental delay.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2019.12.004DOI Listing
May 2020
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