Publications by authors named "Lachlan T Strike"

30 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Autism-related dietary preferences mediate autism-gut microbiome associations.

Cell 2021 Nov 11;184(24):5916-5931.e17. Epub 2021 Nov 11.

Imaging Genetics Center, Mark & Mary Stevens Institute for Neuroimaging & Informatics, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA.

There is increasing interest in the potential contribution of the gut microbiome to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, previous studies have been underpowered and have not been designed to address potential confounding factors in a comprehensive way. We performed a large autism stool metagenomics study (n = 247) based on participants from the Australian Autism Biobank and the Queensland Twin Adolescent Brain project. We found negligible direct associations between ASD diagnosis and the gut microbiome. Instead, our data support a model whereby ASD-related restricted interests are associated with less-diverse diet, and in turn reduced microbial taxonomic diversity and looser stool consistency. In contrast to ASD diagnosis, our dataset was well powered to detect microbiome associations with traits such as age, dietary intake, and stool consistency. Overall, microbiome differences in ASD may reflect dietary preferences that relate to diagnostic features, and we caution against claims that the microbiome has a driving role in ASD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2021.10.015DOI Listing
November 2021

Are Sex Differences in Human Brain Structure Associated With Sex Differences in Behavior?

Psychol Sci 2021 08 29;32(8):1183-1197. Epub 2021 Jul 29.

Centre for Psychology and Evolution, School of Psychology, University of Queensland.

On average, men and women differ in brain structure and behavior, raising the possibility of a link between sex differences in brain and behavior. But women and men are also subject to different societal and cultural norms. We navigated this challenge by investigating variability of sex-differentiated brain structure within each sex. Using data from the Queensland Twin IMaging study ( = 1,040) and Human Connectome Project ( = 1,113), we obtained data-driven measures of individual differences along a male-female dimension for brain and behavior based on average sex differences in brain structure and behavior, respectively. We found a weak association between these brain and behavioral differences, driven by brain size. These brain and behavioral differences were moderately heritable. Our findings suggest that behavioral sex differences are, to some extent, related to sex differences in brain structure but that this is mainly driven by differences in brain size, and causality should be interpreted cautiously.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0956797621996664DOI Listing
August 2021

Are Sex Differences in Human Brain Structure Associated With Sex Differences in Behavior?

Psychol Sci 2021 08 29;32(8):1183-1197. Epub 2021 Jul 29.

Centre for Psychology and Evolution, School of Psychology, University of Queensland.

On average, men and women differ in brain structure and behavior, raising the possibility of a link between sex differences in brain and behavior. But women and men are also subject to different societal and cultural norms. We navigated this challenge by investigating variability of sex-differentiated brain structure within each sex. Using data from the Queensland Twin IMaging study ( = 1,040) and Human Connectome Project ( = 1,113), we obtained data-driven measures of individual differences along a male-female dimension for brain and behavior based on average sex differences in brain structure and behavior, respectively. We found a weak association between these brain and behavioral differences, driven by brain size. These brain and behavioral differences were moderately heritable. Our findings suggest that behavioral sex differences are, to some extent, related to sex differences in brain structure but that this is mainly driven by differences in brain size, and causality should be interpreted cautiously.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0956797621996664DOI Listing
August 2021

1q21.1 distal copy number variants are associated with cerebral and cognitive alterations in humans.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 03 22;11(1):182. Epub 2021 Mar 22.

Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, United Kingdom.

Low-frequency 1q21.1 distal deletion and duplication copy number variant (CNV) carriers are predisposed to multiple neurodevelopmental disorders, including schizophrenia, autism and intellectual disability. Human carriers display a high prevalence of micro- and macrocephaly in deletion and duplication carriers, respectively. The underlying brain structural diversity remains largely unknown. We systematically called CNVs in 38 cohorts from the large-scale ENIGMA-CNV collaboration and the UK Biobank and identified 28 1q21.1 distal deletion and 22 duplication carriers and 37,088 non-carriers (48% male) derived from 15 distinct magnetic resonance imaging scanner sites. With standardized methods, we compared subcortical and cortical brain measures (all) and cognitive performance (UK Biobank only) between carrier groups also testing for mediation of brain structure on cognition. We identified positive dosage effects of copy number on intracranial volume (ICV) and total cortical surface area, with the largest effects in frontal and cingulate cortices, and negative dosage effects on caudate and hippocampal volumes. The carriers displayed distinct cognitive deficit profiles in cognitive tasks from the UK Biobank with intermediate decreases in duplication carriers and somewhat larger in deletion carriers-the latter potentially mediated by ICV or cortical surface area. These results shed light on pathobiological mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disorders, by demonstrating gene dose effect on specific brain structures and effect on cognitive function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01213-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7985307PMC
March 2021

Cortical thickness across the lifespan: Data from 17,075 healthy individuals aged 3-90 years.

Hum Brain Mapp 2021 Feb 17. Epub 2021 Feb 17.

Laboratory of Psychiatric Neuroimaging, Departamento e Instituto de Psiquiatria, Hospital das Clinicas HCFMUSP, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.

Delineating the association of age and cortical thickness in healthy individuals is critical given the association of cortical thickness with cognition and behavior. Previous research has shown that robust estimates of the association between age and brain morphometry require large-scale studies. In response, we used cross-sectional data from 17,075 individuals aged 3-90 years from the Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis (ENIGMA) Consortium to infer age-related changes in cortical thickness. We used fractional polynomial (FP) regression to quantify the association between age and cortical thickness, and we computed normalized growth centiles using the parametric Lambda, Mu, and Sigma method. Interindividual variability was estimated using meta-analysis and one-way analysis of variance. For most regions, their highest cortical thickness value was observed in childhood. Age and cortical thickness showed a negative association; the slope was steeper up to the third decade of life and more gradual thereafter; notable exceptions to this general pattern were entorhinal, temporopolar, and anterior cingulate cortices. Interindividual variability was largest in temporal and frontal regions across the lifespan. Age and its FP combinations explained up to 59% variance in cortical thickness. These results may form the basis of further investigation on normative deviation in cortical thickness and its significance for behavioral and cognitive outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25364DOI Listing
February 2021

Subcortical volumes across the lifespan: Data from 18,605 healthy individuals aged 3-90 years.

Hum Brain Mapp 2021 Feb 11. Epub 2021 Feb 11.

Department of Psychology, Center for Brain Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Age has a major effect on brain volume. However, the normative studies available are constrained by small sample sizes, restricted age coverage and significant methodological variability. These limitations introduce inconsistencies and may obscure or distort the lifespan trajectories of brain morphometry. In response, we capitalized on the resources of the Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis (ENIGMA) Consortium to examine age-related trajectories inferred from cross-sectional measures of the ventricles, the basal ganglia (caudate, putamen, pallidum, and nucleus accumbens), the thalamus, hippocampus and amygdala using magnetic resonance imaging data obtained from 18,605 individuals aged 3-90 years. All subcortical structure volumes were at their maximum value early in life. The volume of the basal ganglia showed a monotonic negative association with age thereafter; there was no significant association between age and the volumes of the thalamus, amygdala and the hippocampus (with some degree of decline in thalamus) until the sixth decade of life after which they also showed a steep negative association with age. The lateral ventricles showed continuous enlargement throughout the lifespan. Age was positively associated with inter-individual variability in the hippocampus and amygdala and the lateral ventricles. These results were robust to potential confounders and could be used to examine the functional significance of deviations from typical age-related morphometric patterns.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25320DOI Listing
February 2021

A meta-analysis of the relationship between subjective sleep and depressive symptoms in adolescence.

Sleep Med 2021 03 12;79:134-144. Epub 2021 Jan 12.

Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia; Centre for Advanced Imaging, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Background: Adolescence is a risk period for the development of mental illness, as well as a time for pronounced change in sleep behaviour. While prior studies, including several meta-analyses show a relationship between sleep and depressive symptoms, there were many inconsistences found in the literature.

Objective: To investigate the relationship between subjective sleep and depressive symptoms.

Methods: Following PRISMA guidelines, we conducted a literature search that yielded forty-nine recent studies (2014-2020) with adolescent samples aged 9 to 25-year-olds, and more than double the sample size of previous meta-analyses (N = 318,256).

Results: In a series of meta-analyses, we show that while several common categories of subjective sleep are associated with depressive symptoms in adolescents, the strength of this relationship varies. Measures of sleep perception: poor sleep quality (r = 0.41), insomnia (r = 0.37), sleep disturbances (r = 0.36), wake after sleep onset (r = 0.31), and daytime sleepiness (r = 0.30) correlated more strongly with depressive symptoms, than measures of sleep behaviour: sleep latency (r = 0.22), and sleep duration (r = -0.19).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that in studies of depressive symptoms it may be important to assess an adolescent's perception about their sleep, in addition to their sleep/wake behaviours.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2021.01.011DOI Listing
March 2021

Greater male than female variability in regional brain structure across the lifespan.

Hum Brain Mapp 2020 Oct 12. Epub 2020 Oct 12.

FIDMAG Germanes Hospitalàries Research Foundation, Barcelona, Spain.

For many traits, males show greater variability than females, with possible implications for understanding sex differences in health and disease. Here, the ENIGMA (Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis) Consortium presents the largest-ever mega-analysis of sex differences in variability of brain structure, based on international data spanning nine decades of life. Subcortical volumes, cortical surface area and cortical thickness were assessed in MRI data of 16,683 healthy individuals 1-90 years old (47% females). We observed significant patterns of greater male than female between-subject variance for all subcortical volumetric measures, all cortical surface area measures, and 60% of cortical thickness measures. This pattern was stable across the lifespan for 50% of the subcortical structures, 70% of the regional area measures, and nearly all regions for thickness. Our findings that these sex differences are present in childhood implicate early life genetic or gene-environment interaction mechanisms. The findings highlight the importance of individual differences within the sexes, that may underpin sex-specific vulnerability to disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25204DOI Listing
October 2020

A unified framework for association and prediction from vertex-wise grey-matter structure.

Hum Brain Mapp 2020 10 20;41(14):4062-4076. Epub 2020 Jul 20.

Institute for Molecular Bioscience, the University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia.

The recent availability of large-scale neuroimaging cohorts facilitates deeper characterisation of the relationship between phenotypic and brain architecture variation in humans. Here, we investigate the association (previously coined morphometricity) of a phenotype with all 652,283 vertex-wise measures of cortical and subcortical morphology in a large data set from the UK Biobank (UKB; N = 9,497 for discovery, N = 4,323 for replication) and the Human Connectome Project (N = 1,110). We used a linear mixed model with the brain measures of individuals fitted as random effects with covariance relationships estimated from the imaging data. We tested 167 behavioural, cognitive, psychiatric or lifestyle phenotypes and found significant morphometricity for 58 phenotypes (spanning substance use, blood assay results, education or income level, diet, depression, and cognition domains), 23 of which replicated in the UKB replication set or the HCP. We then extended the model for a bivariate analysis to estimate grey-matter correlation between phenotypes, which revealed that body size (i.e., height, weight, BMI, waist and hip circumference, body fat percentage) could account for a substantial proportion of the morphometricity (confirmed using a conditional analysis), providing possible insight into previous MRI case-control results for psychiatric disorders where case status is associated with body mass index. Our LMM framework also allowed to predict some of the associated phenotypes from the vertex-wise measures, in two independent samples. Finally, we demonstrated additional new applications of our approach (a) region of interest (ROI) analysis that retain the vertex-wise complexity; (b) comparison of the information retained by different MRI processings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25109DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7469763PMC
October 2020

Brain aging in major depressive disorder: results from the ENIGMA major depressive disorder working group.

Mol Psychiatry 2021 Sep 18;26(9):5124-5139. Epub 2020 May 18.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Münster, Münster, Germany.

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with an increased risk of brain atrophy, aging-related diseases, and mortality. We examined potential advanced brain aging in adult MDD patients, and whether this process is associated with clinical characteristics in a large multicenter international dataset. We performed a mega-analysis by pooling brain measures derived from T1-weighted MRI scans from 19 samples worldwide. Healthy brain aging was estimated by predicting chronological age (18-75 years) from 7 subcortical volumes, 34 cortical thickness and 34 surface area, lateral ventricles and total intracranial volume measures separately in 952 male and 1236 female controls from the ENIGMA MDD working group. The learned model coefficients were applied to 927 male controls and 986 depressed males, and 1199 female controls and 1689 depressed females to obtain independent unbiased brain-based age predictions. The difference between predicted "brain age" and chronological age was calculated to indicate brain-predicted age difference (brain-PAD). On average, MDD patients showed a higher brain-PAD of +1.08 (SE 0.22) years (Cohen's d = 0.14, 95% CI: 0.08-0.20) compared with controls. However, this difference did not seem to be driven by specific clinical characteristics (recurrent status, remission status, antidepressant medication use, age of onset, or symptom severity). This highly powered collaborative effort showed subtle patterns of age-related structural brain abnormalities in MDD. Substantial within-group variance and overlap between groups were observed. Longitudinal studies of MDD and somatic health outcomes are needed to further assess the clinical value of these brain-PAD estimates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-020-0754-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8589647PMC
September 2021

Region-specific sex differences in the hippocampus.

Neuroimage 2020 07 9;215:116781. Epub 2020 Apr 9.

Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia; Centre for Advanced Imaging, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

The hippocampus is a brain region critical for learning and memory, and is also implicated in several neuropsychiatric disorders that show sex differences in prevalence, symptom expression, and mean age of onset. On average, males have larger hippocampal volumes than females, but findings are inconclusive after adjusting for overall brain size. Although the hippocampus is a heterogenous structure, few studies have focused on sex differences in the hippocampal subfields - with little consensus on whether there are regionally specific sex differences in the hippocampus after adjusting for brain size, or whether it is important to adjust for total hippocampal volume (HPV). Here, using two young adult cohorts from the Queensland Twin IMaging study (QTIM; N ​= ​727) and the Human Connectome Project (HCP; N ​= ​960), we examined differences between males and females in the volumes of 12 hippocampal subfields, extracted using FreeSurfer 6.0. After adjusting the subfield volumes for either HPV or brain size (brain segmentation volume (BSV)) using four controlling methods (allometric, covariate, residual and matching), we estimated the percentage difference of the sex effect (males versus females) and Cohen's d using hierarchical general linear models. Males had larger volumes compared to females in the parasubiculum (up to 6.04%; Cohen's d ​= ​0.46) and fimbria (up to 8.75%; d ​= ​0.54) after adjusting for HPV. These sex differences were robust across the two cohorts and multiple controlling methods, though within cohort effect sizes were larger for the matched approach, due to the smaller sub-sample. Additional sex effects were identified in the HCP cohort and combined (QTIM and HCP) sample (hippocampal fissure (up to 6.79%), presubiculum (up to 3.08%), and hippocampal tail (up to -0.23%)). In contrast, no sex differences were detected for the volume of the cornu ammonis (CA)2/3, CA4, Hippocampus-Amygdala Transition Area (HATA), or the granule cell layer of the dentate gyrus (GCDG). These findings show that, independent of differences in HPV, there are regionally specific sex differences in the hippocampus, which may be most prominent in the fimbria and parasubiculum. Further, given sex differences were less consistent across cohorts after controlling for BSV, adjusting for HPV rather than BSV may benefit future studies. This work may help in disentangling sex effects, and provide a better understanding of the implications of sex differences for behaviour and neuropsychiatric disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.116781DOI Listing
July 2020

The genetic architecture of the human cerebral cortex.

Science 2020 03;367(6484)

The cerebral cortex underlies our complex cognitive capabilities, yet little is known about the specific genetic loci that influence human cortical structure. To identify genetic variants that affect cortical structure, we conducted a genome-wide association meta-analysis of brain magnetic resonance imaging data from 51,665 individuals. We analyzed the surface area and average thickness of the whole cortex and 34 regions with known functional specializations. We identified 199 significant loci and found significant enrichment for loci influencing total surface area within regulatory elements that are active during prenatal cortical development, supporting the radial unit hypothesis. Loci that affect regional surface area cluster near genes in Wnt signaling pathways, which influence progenitor expansion and areal identity. Variation in cortical structure is genetically correlated with cognitive function, Parkinson's disease, insomnia, depression, neuroticism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aay6690DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7295264PMC
March 2020

Educational attainment polygenic scores are associated with cortical total surface area and regions important for language and memory.

Neuroimage 2020 05 29;212:116691. Epub 2020 Feb 29.

Department of Genetics & Computational Biology, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, QLD, Australia; School of Biomedical Sciences, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

It is well established that higher cognitive ability is associated with larger brain size. However, individual variation in intelligence exists despite brain size and recent studies have shown that a simple unifactorial view of the neurobiology underpinning cognitive ability is probably unrealistic. Educational attainment (EA) is often used as a proxy for cognitive ability since it is easily measured, resulting in large sample sizes and, consequently, sufficient statistical power to detect small associations. This study investigates the association between three global (total surface area (TSA), intra-cranial volume (ICV) and average cortical thickness) and 34 regional cortical measures with educational attainment using a polygenic scoring (PGS) approach. Analyses were conducted on two independent target samples of young twin adults with neuroimaging data, from Australia (N ​= ​1097) and the USA (N ​= ​723), and found that higher EA-PGS were significantly associated with larger global brain size measures, ICV and TSA (R ​= ​0.006 and 0.016 respectively, p ​< ​0.001) but not average thickness. At the regional level, we identified seven cortical regions-in the frontal and temporal lobes-that showed variation in surface area and average cortical thickness over-and-above the global effect. These regions have been robustly implicated in language, memory, visual recognition and cognitive processing. Additionally, we demonstrate that these identified brain regions partly mediate the association between EA-PGS and cognitive test performance. Altogether, these findings advance our understanding of the neurobiology that underpins educational attainment and cognitive ability, providing focus points for future research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.116691DOI Listing
May 2020

Epigenome-wide meta-analysis of blood DNA methylation and its association with subcortical volumes: findings from the ENIGMA Epigenetics Working Group.

Mol Psychiatry 2021 Aug 6;26(8):3884-3895. Epub 2019 Dec 6.

University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, House W34, 3.OG, Martinistr. 52, 20246, Hamburg, Germany.

DNA methylation, which is modulated by both genetic factors and environmental exposures, may offer a unique opportunity to discover novel biomarkers of disease-related brain phenotypes, even when measured in other tissues than brain, such as blood. A few studies of small sample sizes have revealed associations between blood DNA methylation and neuropsychopathology, however, large-scale epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS) are needed to investigate the utility of DNA methylation profiling as a peripheral marker for the brain. Here, in an analysis of eleven international cohorts, totalling 3337 individuals, we report epigenome-wide meta-analyses of blood DNA methylation with volumes of the hippocampus, thalamus and nucleus accumbens (NAcc)-three subcortical regions selected for their associations with disease and heritability and volumetric variability. Analyses of individual CpGs revealed genome-wide significant associations with hippocampal volume at two loci. No significant associations were found for analyses of thalamus and nucleus accumbens volumes. Cluster-based analyses revealed additional differentially methylated regions (DMRs) associated with hippocampal volume. DNA methylation at these loci affected expression of proximal genes involved in learning and memory, stem cell maintenance and differentiation, fatty acid metabolism and type-2 diabetes. These DNA methylation marks, their interaction with genetic variants and their impact on gene expression offer new insights into the relationship between epigenetic variation and brain structure and may provide the basis for biomarker discovery in neurodegeneration and neuropsychiatric conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-019-0605-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8550939PMC
August 2021

Association of Copy Number Variation of the 15q11.2 BP1-BP2 Region With Cortical and Subcortical Morphology and Cognition.

JAMA Psychiatry 2020 04;77(4):420-430

Department of Biological Psychology and Netherlands Twin Register, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Importance: Recurrent microdeletions and duplications in the genomic region 15q11.2 between breakpoints 1 (BP1) and 2 (BP2) are associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. These structural variants are present in 0.5% to 1.0% of the population, making 15q11.2 BP1-BP2 the site of the most prevalent known pathogenic copy number variation (CNV). It is unknown to what extent this CNV influences brain structure and affects cognitive abilities.

Objective: To determine the association of the 15q11.2 BP1-BP2 deletion and duplication CNVs with cortical and subcortical brain morphology and cognitive task performance.

Design, Setting, And Participants: In this genetic association study, T1-weighted brain magnetic resonance imaging were combined with genetic data from the ENIGMA-CNV consortium and the UK Biobank, with a replication cohort from Iceland. In total, 203 deletion carriers, 45 247 noncarriers, and 306 duplication carriers were included. Data were collected from August 2015 to April 2019, and data were analyzed from September 2018 to September 2019.

Main Outcomes And Measures: The associations of the CNV with global and regional measures of surface area and cortical thickness as well as subcortical volumes were investigated, correcting for age, age2, sex, scanner, and intracranial volume. Additionally, measures of cognitive ability were analyzed in the full UK Biobank cohort.

Results: Of 45 756 included individuals, the mean (SD) age was 55.8 (18.3) years, and 23 754 (51.9%) were female. Compared with noncarriers, deletion carriers had a lower surface area (Cohen d = -0.41; SE, 0.08; P = 4.9 × 10-8), thicker cortex (Cohen d = 0.36; SE, 0.07; P = 1.3 × 10-7), and a smaller nucleus accumbens (Cohen d = -0.27; SE, 0.07; P = 7.3 × 10-5). There was also a significant negative dose response on cortical thickness (β = -0.24; SE, 0.05; P = 6.8 × 10-7). Regional cortical analyses showed a localization of the effects to the frontal, cingulate, and parietal lobes. Further, cognitive ability was lower for deletion carriers compared with noncarriers on 5 of 7 tasks.

Conclusions And Relevance: These findings, from the largest CNV neuroimaging study to date, provide evidence that 15q11.2 BP1-BP2 structural variation is associated with brain morphology and cognition, with deletion carriers being particularly affected. The pattern of results fits with known molecular functions of genes in the 15q11.2 BP1-BP2 region and suggests involvement of these genes in neuronal plasticity. These neurobiological effects likely contribute to the association of this CNV with neurodevelopmental disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.3779DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6822096PMC
April 2020

Genetic architecture of subcortical brain structures in 38,851 individuals.

Nat Genet 2019 11 21;51(11):1624-1636. Epub 2019 Oct 21.

Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA.

Subcortical brain structures are integral to motion, consciousness, emotions and learning. We identified common genetic variation related to the volumes of the nucleus accumbens, amygdala, brainstem, caudate nucleus, globus pallidus, putamen and thalamus, using genome-wide association analyses in almost 40,000 individuals from CHARGE, ENIGMA and UK Biobank. We show that variability in subcortical volumes is heritable, and identify 48 significantly associated loci (40 novel at the time of analysis). Annotation of these loci by utilizing gene expression, methylation and neuropathological data identified 199 genes putatively implicated in neurodevelopment, synaptic signaling, axonal transport, apoptosis, inflammation/infection and susceptibility to neurological disorders. This set of genes is significantly enriched for Drosophila orthologs associated with neurodevelopmental phenotypes, suggesting evolutionarily conserved mechanisms. Our findings uncover novel biology and potential drug targets underlying brain development and disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-019-0511-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7055269PMC
November 2019

Non-linear realignment improves hippocampus subfield segmentation reliability.

Neuroimage 2019 12 17;203:116206. Epub 2019 Sep 17.

Centre for Advanced Imaging, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia; School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Participant movement can deleteriously affect MR image quality. Further, for the visualization and segmentation of small anatomical structures, there is a need to improve image quality, specifically signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR), by acquiring multiple anatomical scans consecutively. We aimed to ameliorate movement artefacts and increase SNR in a high-resolution turbo spin-echo (TSE) sequence acquired thrice using non-linear realignment in order to improve segmentation consistency of the hippocampus subfields. We assessed the method in 29 young healthy participants, 11 Motor Neuron Disease patients, and 11 age matched controls at 7T, and 24 healthy adolescents at 3T. Results show improved image segmentation of the hippocampus subfields when comparing template-based segmentations with individual segmentations with Dice overlaps N = 75; ps < 0.001 (Friedman's test) and higher sharpness ps < 0.001 in non-linearly realigned scans as compared to linearly, and arithmetically averaged scans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.116206DOI Listing
December 2019

Absolute and relative estimates of genetic and environmental variance in brain structure volumes.

Brain Struct Funct 2019 Nov 19;224(8):2805-2821. Epub 2019 Aug 19.

Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, 4072, Australia.

Comparing estimates of the amount of genetic and environmental variance for different brain structures may elucidate differences in the genetic architecture or developmental constraints of individual brain structures. However, most studies compare estimates of relative genetic (heritability) and environmental variance in brain structure, which do not reflect differences in absolute variance between brain regions. Here we used a population sample of young adult twins and singleton siblings of twins (n = 791; M = 23 years, Queensland Twin IMaging study) to estimate the absolute genetic and environmental variance, standardised by the phenotypic mean, in the size of cortical, subcortical, and ventricular brain structures. Mean-standardised genetic variance differed widely across structures [23.5-fold range 0.52% (hippocampus) to 12.28% (lateral ventricles)], but the range of estimates within cortical, subcortical, or ventricular structures was more moderate (two to fivefold range). There was no association between mean-standardised and relative measures of genetic variance (i.e., heritability) in brain structure volumes. We found similar results in an independent sample (n = 1075, M = 29 years, Human Connectome Project). These findings open important new lines of enquiry: namely, understanding the bases of these variance patterns, and their implications regarding the genetic architecture, evolution, and development of the human brain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00429-019-01931-8DOI Listing
November 2019

Accelerated estimation and permutation inference for ACE modeling.

Hum Brain Mapp 2019 08 29;40(12):3488-3507. Epub 2019 Apr 29.

Department of Statistics, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.

There are a wealth of tools for fitting linear models at each location in the brain in neuroimaging analysis, and a wealth of genetic tools for estimating heritability for a small number of phenotypes. But there remains a need for computationally efficient neuroimaging genetic tools that can conduct analyses at the brain-wide scale. Here we present a simple method for heritability estimation on twins that replaces a variance component model-which requires iterative optimisation-with a (noniterative) linear regression model, by transforming data to squared twin-pair differences. We demonstrate that the method has comparable bias, mean squared error, false positive risk, and power to best practice maximum-likelihood-based methods, while requiring a small fraction of the computation time. Combined with permutation, we call this approach "Accelerated Permutation Inference for the ACE Model (APACE)" where ACE refers to the additive genetic (A) effects, and common (C), and unique (E) environmental influences on the trait. We show how the use of spatial statistics like cluster size can dramatically improve power, and illustrate the method on a heritability analysis of an fMRI working memory dataset.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.24611DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6680147PMC
August 2019

Associations between brain structure and perceived intensity of sweet and bitter tastes.

Behav Brain Res 2019 05 28;363:103-108. Epub 2019 Jan 28.

Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; Centre for Advanced Imaging, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Functional neuroimaging studies have identified brain regions associated with human taste perception, but only a few have investigated the associations with brain structure. Here, in this exploratory study, we examined the association between the volumes of 82 regions of interest (ROI) and the perceived intensities of sweet (a weighted mean rating of glucose, fructose, aspartame, neohesperidin dihydrochalcone) and bitter (propylthiouracil, quinine, caffeine) substances in a large Australian healthy cohort from the Queensland Twin IMaging (QTIM, n = 559) study and the perceived intensity of quinine in a large U.S. healthy cohort from the Human Connectome Project (HCP, n = 1101). In QTIM, the volumes of 3 cortical (right cuneus gyrus, left transverse temporal gyrus, right inferior temporal gyrus) and one subcortical structure (both left and right caudate) were associated with more than one taste stimulus (P < 0.05) and tended to be associated with both sweet and bitter tastes in the same direction, suggesting these ROIs were more broadly tuned for taste sensation. A further 11 ROIs were associated with a specific taste (sweetness: 4; propylthiouracil: 3; caffeine: 2; quinine: 2). In HCP, volumes of 5 ROIs were associated with quinine bitterness. The quinine-left entorhinal cortex association was found in both QTIM (r = -0.12, P = 3.7 × 10) and HCP (r = -0.06, P = 2.0 × 10). This study provides the first evidence that, even in healthy people, variation in brain structure is associated with taste intensity ratings, and provides new insights into the brain gustatory circuit.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2019.01.046DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6470356PMC
May 2019

A Fast Method for Estimating Statistical Power of Multivariate GWAS in Real Case Scenarios: Examples from the Field of Imaging Genetics.

Behav Genet 2019 01 15;49(1):112-121. Epub 2018 Nov 15.

Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, 4072, Australia.

In GWAS of imaging phenotypes (e.g., by the ENIGMA and CHARGE consortia), the growing number of phenotypes considered presents a statistical challenge that other fields are not experiencing (e.g. psychiatry and the Psychiatric Genetics Consortium). However, the multivariate nature of MRI measurements may also be an advantage as many of the MRI phenotypes are correlated and multivariate methods could be considered. Here, we compared the statistical power of a multivariate GWAS versus the current univariate approach, which consists of multiple univariate analyses. To do so, we used results from twin models to estimate pertinent vectors of SNP effect sizes on brain imaging phenotypes, as well as the residual correlation matrices, necessary to estimate analytically the statistical power. We showed that for subcortical structure volumes and hippocampal subfields, a multivariate GWAS yields similar statistical power to the current univariate approach. Our analytical approach is as accurate but ~ 1000 times faster than simulations and we have released the code to facilitate the investigation of other scenarios, may they be outside the field of imaging genetics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10519-018-9936-9DOI Listing
January 2019

Testing associations between cannabis use and subcortical volumes in two large population-based samples.

Addiction 2018 Apr 24. Epub 2018 Apr 24.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, QLD, Australia.

Background And Aims: Disentangling the putative impact of cannabis on brain morphology from other comorbid substance use is critical. After controlling for the effects of nicotine, alcohol and multi-substance use, this study aimed to determine whether frequent cannabis use is associated with significantly smaller subcortical grey matter volumes.

Design: Exploratory analyses using mixed linear models, one per region of interest (ROI), were performed whereby individual differences in volume (outcome) at seven subcortical ROIs were regressed onto cannabis and comorbid substance use (predictors).

Setting: Two large population-based twin samples from the United States and Australia.

Participants: A total of 622 young Australian adults [66% female; μ  = 25.9, standard deviation SD) = 3.6] and 474 middle-aged US males (μ  = 56.1 ) of predominately Anglo-Saxon ancestry with complete substance use and imaging data. Subjects with a history of stroke or traumatic brain injury were excluded.

Measurements: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and volumetric segmentation methods were used to estimate volume in seven subcortical ROIs: thalamus, caudate nucleus, putamen, pallidum, hippocampus, amygdala and nucleus accumbens. Substance use measurements included maximum nicotine and alcohol use, total life-time multi-substance use, maximum cannabis use in the young adults and regular cannabis use in the middle-aged males.

Findings: After correcting for multiple testing (P = 0.007), cannabis use was unrelated to any subcortical ROI. However, maximum nicotine use was associated with significantly smaller thalamus volumes in middle-aged males.

Conclusions: In exploratory analyses based on young adult and middle-aged samples, normal variation in cannabis use is unrelated statistically to individual differences in brain morphology as measured by subcortical volume.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/add.14252DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6200645PMC
April 2018

Genetic Complexity of Cortical Structure: Differences in Genetic and Environmental Factors Influencing Cortical Surface Area and Thickness.

Cereb Cortex 2019 03;29(3):952-962

Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, Brisbane QLD, Australia.

Quantifying the genetic architecture of the cerebral cortex is necessary for understanding disease and changes to the brain across the lifespan. Prior work shows that both surface area (SA) and cortical thickness (CT) are heritable. However, we do not yet understand the extent to which region-specific genetic factors (i.e., independent of global effects) play a dominant role in the regional patterning or inter-regional associations across the cortex. Using a population sample of young adult twins (N = 923), we show that the heritability of SA and CT varies widely across regions, generally independent of measurement error. When global effects are controlled for, we detected a complex pattern of genetically mediated clusters of inter-regional associations, which varied between hemispheres. There were generally weak associations between the SA of different regions, except within the occipital lobe, whereas CT was positively correlated within lobar divisions and negatively correlated across lobes, mostly due to genetic covariation. These findings were replicated in an independent sample of twins and siblings (N = 698) from the Human Connectome Project. The different genetic contributions to SA and CT across regions reveal the value of quantifying sources of covariation to appreciate the genetic complexity of cortical structures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhy002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6373676PMC
March 2019

Lingual Gyrus Surface Area Is Associated with Anxiety-Depression Severity in Young Adults: A Genetic Clustering Approach.

eNeuro 2018 Jan-Feb;5(1). Epub 2018 Jan 19.

Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, Brisbane 4072, Australia.

Here we aimed to identify cortical endophenotypes for anxiety-depression. Our data-driven approach used vertex-wise genetic correlations (estimated from a twin sample: 157 monozygotic and 194 dizygotic twin pairs) to parcellate cortical thickness (CT) and surface area (SA) into genetically homogeneous regions (Chen et al., 2013). In an overlapping twin and sibling sample ( = 834; aged 15-29, 66% female), in those with anxiety-depression Somatic and Psychological Health Report (SPHERE) scores (Hickie et al., 2001) above median, we found a reduction of SA in an occipito-temporal cluster, which comprised part of the right lingual, fusiform and parahippocampal gyrii. A similar reduction was observed in the Human Connectome Project (HCP) sample ( = 890, age 22-37, 56.5% female) in those with Adult Self Report (ASR) DSM-oriented scores (Achenbach et al., 2005) in the 25-95% quantiles. A vertex-wise analysis identified the right lingual and, to a lesser extent the fusiform gyrus. Overall, the surface reduction explained by the anxiety-depression scores was modest ( = -0.10, 3rd order spline, and = -0.040, 1st order spline in the HCP). The discordant results in the top 5% of the anxiety-depression scores may be explained by differences in recruitment between the studies. However, we could not conclude whether this cortical region was an endophenotype for anxiety-depression as the genetic correlations did not reach significance, which we attribute to the modest effect size ( statistical power <10%).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0153-17.2017DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5773884PMC
January 2019

Genetic influences on individual differences in longitudinal changes in global and subcortical brain volumes: Results of the ENIGMA plasticity working group.

Hum Brain Mapp 2017 09 5;38(9):4444-4458. Epub 2017 Jun 5.

Department of Psychiatry, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Structural brain changes that occur during development and ageing are related to mental health and general cognitive functioning. Individuals differ in the extent to which their brain volumes change over time, but whether these differences can be attributed to differences in their genotypes has not been widely studied. Here we estimate heritability (h ) of changes in global and subcortical brain volumes in five longitudinal twin cohorts from across the world and in different stages of the lifespan (N = 861). Heritability estimates of brain changes were significant and ranged from 16% (caudate) to 42% (cerebellar gray matter) for all global and most subcortical volumes (with the exception of thalamus and pallidum). Heritability estimates of change rates were generally higher in adults than in children suggesting an increasing influence of genetic factors explaining individual differences in brain structural changes with age. In children, environmental influences in part explained individual differences in developmental changes in brain structure. Multivariate genetic modeling showed that genetic influences of change rates and baseline volume significantly overlapped for many structures. The genetic influences explaining individual differences in the change rate for cerebellum, cerebellar gray matter and lateral ventricles were independent of the genetic influences explaining differences in their baseline volumes. These results imply the existence of genetic variants that are specific for brain plasticity, rather than brain volume itself. Identifying these genes may increase our understanding of brain development and ageing and possibly have implications for diseases that are characterized by deviant developmental trajectories of brain structure. Hum Brain Mapp 38:4444-4458, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.23672DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5572837PMC
September 2017

Novel genetic loci associated with hippocampal volume.

Nat Commun 2017 01 18;8:13624. Epub 2017 Jan 18.

Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70808, USA.

The hippocampal formation is a brain structure integrally involved in episodic memory, spatial navigation, cognition and stress responsiveness. Structural abnormalities in hippocampal volume and shape are found in several common neuropsychiatric disorders. To identify the genetic underpinnings of hippocampal structure here we perform a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 33,536 individuals and discover six independent loci significantly associated with hippocampal volume, four of them novel. Of the novel loci, three lie within genes (ASTN2, DPP4 and MAST4) and one is found 200 kb upstream of SHH. A hippocampal subfield analysis shows that a locus within the MSRB3 gene shows evidence of a localized effect along the dentate gyrus, subiculum, CA1 and fissure. Further, we show that genetic variants associated with decreased hippocampal volume are also associated with increased risk for Alzheimer's disease (r=-0.155). Our findings suggest novel biological pathways through which human genetic variation influences hippocampal volume and risk for neuropsychiatric illness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms13624DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5253632PMC
January 2017

Novel genetic loci underlying human intracranial volume identified through genome-wide association.

Nat Neurosci 2016 12 3;19(12):1569-1582. Epub 2016 Oct 3.

Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, Department of Psychiatry, UMC Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Intracranial volume reflects the maximally attained brain size during development, and remains stable with loss of tissue in late life. It is highly heritable, but the underlying genes remain largely undetermined. In a genome-wide association study of 32,438 adults, we discovered five previously unknown loci for intracranial volume and confirmed two known signals. Four of the loci were also associated with adult human stature, but these remained associated with intracranial volume after adjusting for height. We found a high genetic correlation with child head circumference (ρ = 0.748), which indicates a similar genetic background and allowed us to identify four additional loci through meta-analysis (N = 37,345). Variants for intracranial volume were also related to childhood and adult cognitive function, and Parkinson's disease, and were enriched near genes involved in growth pathways, including PI3K-AKT signaling. These findings identify the biological underpinnings of intracranial volume and their link to physiological and pathological traits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nn.4398DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5227112PMC
December 2016

Human subcortical brain asymmetries in 15,847 people worldwide reveal effects of age and sex.

Brain Imaging Behav 2017 Oct;11(5):1497-1514

Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

The two hemispheres of the human brain differ functionally and structurally. Despite over a century of research, the extent to which brain asymmetry is influenced by sex, handedness, age, and genetic factors is still controversial. Here we present the largest ever analysis of subcortical brain asymmetries, in a harmonized multi-site study using meta-analysis methods. Volumetric asymmetry of seven subcortical structures was assessed in 15,847 MRI scans from 52 datasets worldwide. There were sex differences in the asymmetry of the globus pallidus and putamen. Heritability estimates, derived from 1170 subjects belonging to 71 extended pedigrees, revealed that additive genetic factors influenced the asymmetry of these two structures and that of the hippocampus and thalamus. Handedness had no detectable effect on subcortical asymmetries, even in this unprecedented sample size, but the asymmetry of the putamen varied with age. Genetic drivers of asymmetry in the hippocampus, thalamus and basal ganglia may affect variability in human cognition, including susceptibility to psychiatric disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11682-016-9629-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5540813PMC
October 2017

Genetics and brain morphology.

Neuropsychol Rev 2015 Mar 14;25(1):63-96. Epub 2015 Mar 14.

Neuroimaging Genetics, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, QLD, 4006, Australia,

A wealth of empirical evidence is accumulating on the genetic mediation of brain structure phenotypes. This comes from twin studies that assess heritability and genetic covariance between traits, candidate gene associations, and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) that can identify specific genetic variants. Here we review the major findings from each of these approaches and consider how they inform on the genetic architecture of brain structure. The findings from twin studies show there is a strong genetic influence (heritability) on brain structure, and overlap of genetic effects (pleiotropy) between structures, and between structure and cognition. However, there is also evidence for genetic specificity, with distinct genetic effects across some brain regions. Candidate gene associations show little convergence; most have been under powered to detect effect sizes of the magnitude now expected. GWAS have identified 19 genetic variants for brain structure, though no replicated associations account for more than 1% of the variance. Together these studies are revealing new insights into the genetic architecture of brain morphology. As the scope of inquiry broadens, including measures that capture the complexity of the brain, along with larger samples and new analyses, such as genome-wide common trait analysis (GCTA) and polygenic scores, which combine variant effects for a phenotype, as well as whole-genome sequencing, more genetic variants for brain structure will be identified. Increasingly, large-scale multi-site studies will facilitate this next wave of studies, and promise to enhance our understanding of the etiology of variation in brain morphology, as well as brain disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11065-015-9281-1DOI Listing
March 2015

Common genetic variants influence human subcortical brain structures.

Nature 2015 Apr 21;520(7546):224-9. Epub 2015 Jan 21.

1] Department of Human Genetics, Radboud university medical center, Nijmegen 6500 HB, The Netherlands. [2] Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, Nijmegen 6500 GL, The Netherlands.

The highly complex structure of the human brain is strongly shaped by genetic influences. Subcortical brain regions form circuits with cortical areas to coordinate movement, learning, memory and motivation, and altered circuits can lead to abnormal behaviour and disease. To investigate how common genetic variants affect the structure of these brain regions, here we conduct genome-wide association studies of the volumes of seven subcortical regions and the intracranial volume derived from magnetic resonance images of 30,717 individuals from 50 cohorts. We identify five novel genetic variants influencing the volumes of the putamen and caudate nucleus. We also find stronger evidence for three loci with previously established influences on hippocampal volume and intracranial volume. These variants show specific volumetric effects on brain structures rather than global effects across structures. The strongest effects were found for the putamen, where a novel intergenic locus with replicable influence on volume (rs945270; P = 1.08 × 10(-33); 0.52% variance explained) showed evidence of altering the expression of the KTN1 gene in both brain and blood tissue. Variants influencing putamen volume clustered near developmental genes that regulate apoptosis, axon guidance and vesicle transport. Identification of these genetic variants provides insight into the causes of variability in human brain development, and may help to determine mechanisms of neuropsychiatric dysfunction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature14101DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4393366PMC
April 2015
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