Publications by authors named "Marco P Boks"

140 Publications

Shape and volume changes of the superior lateral ventricle after electroconvulsive therapy measured with ultra-high field MRI.

Psychiatry Res Neuroimaging 2021 Sep 3;317:111384. Epub 2021 Sep 3.

University Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Department of Biomedical Sciences of Cells and Systems, Groningen, the Netherlands.

The subventricular zone (SVZ) of the lateral ventricles harbors neuronal stem cells in adult mammals. Rodent studies report neurogenic effects in the SVZ of electroconvulsive stimulation. We hypothesize that if this finding translates to depressed patients undergoing electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), this would be reflected in shape changes at the SVZ. Using T1-weighted MR images acquired at ultra-high field strength (7T), the shape and volume of the ventricles were compared from pre to post ECT after 10 ECT sessions (in patients twice weekly) or 5 weeks apart (controls) using linear mixed models with age and gender as covariates. Ventricle shape significantly changed and volume significantly decreased over time in patients for the left ventricle, but not in controls. The decrease in volume of the ventricles was associated to a decrease in depression scores, and an increase in the left dentate gyrus, However, the shape changes of the ventricles were not restricted to the neurogenic niche in the lateral walls of the ventricles, providing no clear evidence for neurogenesis as sole explanation of volume changes in the ventricles after ECT.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pscychresns.2021.111384DOI Listing
September 2021

Bipolar episodes after reproductive events in women with bipolar I disorder, A study of 919 pregnancies.

J Affect Disord 2021 Aug 8;295:72-79. Epub 2021 Aug 8.

Department of Psychiatry, Erasmus University Medical Center, 3000 CA Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY 10029, USA; Department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY 10029, USA.

Background: Women with bipolar I disorder are at high risk for severe episodes after childbirth, but there is no study that provides an overview on bipolar episode risk both during pregnancy and after childbirth, miscarriage and induced abortion. The aim of this study was to determine the episode risk during all pregnancy outcomes subdivided by first and subsequent pregnancies.

Methods: Participants were 436 women with bipolar I disorder from the Dutch Bipolar Cohort, having 919 pregnancies of which 762 resulted in a live childbirth, 118 ended in a miscarriage and 39 ended in induced abortion. Women reported on the occurrence of manic or depressed episodes during the perinatal period. Information about medication use was obtained by questionnaires.

Results: Episode risk was 5.2% during pregnancy, and 30.1% in the postpartum period, with a peak in the early postpartum period. Risk of an episode was highest after live birth (34.4%), and lower after miscarriage (15.2%) and induced abortion (27.8%). Women with an episode during pregnancy or postpartum were less likely to have a second child compared to women with an uneventful first pregnancy (cOR=0.34; 95%CI: 0.22-0.51; p<0.001); if they had a second child their risk of an episode was significantly elevated with a subsequent pregnancy (cOR=6.17; 95%CI: 3.64-10.45; p<0.001).

Limitations: Retrospective cross-sectional design with assessment (partial) through self-report in a homogeneous population.

Conclusions: Women with bipolar I disorder have a six times higher risk of an episode after delivery compared to during pregnancy, therefore preventive strategies are particularly important immediately after delivery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2021.08.006DOI Listing
August 2021

DNA methylation differences in cortical grey and white matter in schizophrenia.

Epigenomics 2021 08 29;13(15):1157-1169. Epub 2021 Jul 29.

Psychiatric Donor Program of The Netherlands Brain Bank (NBB-PSY), Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Identify grey- and white-matter-specific DNA-methylation differences between schizophrenia (SCZ) patients and controls in postmortem brain cortical tissue. Grey and white matter were separated from postmortem brain tissue of the superior temporal and medial frontal gyrus from SCZ (n = 10) and control (n = 11) cases. Genome-wide DNA-methylation analysis was performed using the Infinium EPIC Methylation Array (Illumina, CA, USA). Four differentially methylated regions associated with SCZ status and tissue type (grey vs white matter) were identified within or near , , and genes. Gene-expression analysis showed differential expression of and in SCZ. Our data show distinct differences in DNA methylation between grey and white matter that are unique to SCZ, providing new leads to unravel the pathogenesis of SCZ.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2217/epi-2021-0077DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8386513PMC
August 2021

Childhood trauma is associated with reduced frontal gray matter volume: a large transdiagnostic structural MRI study.

Psychol Med 2021 Jun 3:1-9. Epub 2021 Jun 3.

Department of Biomedical Sciences of Cells & Systems, Section Cognitive Neurosciences, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands.

Background: Childhood trauma increases risk for psychopathology and cognitive impairment. Prior research mainly focused on the hippocampus and amygdala in single diagnostic categories. However, other brain regions may be impacted by trauma as well, and effects may be independent of diagnosis. This cross-sectional study investigated cortical and subcortical gray matter volume in relation to childhood trauma severity.

Methods: We included 554 participants: 250 bipolar-I patients, 84 schizophrenia-spectrum patients and 220 healthy individuals without a psychiatric history. Participants filled in the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Anatomical T1 MRI scans were acquired at 3T, regional brain morphology was assessed using Freesurfer.

Results: In the total sample, trauma-related gray matter reductions were found in the frontal lobe (β = -0.049, p = 0.008; q = 0.048), this effect was driven by the right medial orbitofrontal, paracentral, superior frontal regions and the left precentral region. No trauma-related volume reductions were observed in any other (sub)cortical lobes nor the hippocampus or amygdala, trauma-by-group (i.e. both patient groups and healthy subjects) interaction effects were absent. A categorical approach confirmed a pattern of more pronounced frontal gray matter reductions in individuals reporting multiple forms of trauma and across quartiles of cumulative trauma scores. Similar dose-response patterns were revealed within the bipolar and healthy subgroups, but did not reach significance in schizophrenia-spectrum patients.

Conclusions: Findings show that childhood trauma is linked to frontal gray matter reductions, independent of psychiatric morbidity. Our results indicate that childhood trauma importantly contributes to the neurobiological changes commonly observed across psychiatric disorders. Frontal volume alterations may underpin affective and cognitive disturbances observed in trauma-exposed individuals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291721002087DOI Listing
June 2021

Genome-wide association study of more than 40,000 bipolar disorder cases provides new insights into the underlying biology.

Nat Genet 2021 06 17;53(6):817-829. Epub 2021 May 17.

Department of Neuroscience, Istituto Di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Milan, Italy.

Bipolar disorder is a heritable mental illness with complex etiology. We performed a genome-wide association study of 41,917 bipolar disorder cases and 371,549 controls of European ancestry, which identified 64 associated genomic loci. Bipolar disorder risk alleles were enriched in genes in synaptic signaling pathways and brain-expressed genes, particularly those with high specificity of expression in neurons of the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. Significant signal enrichment was found in genes encoding targets of antipsychotics, calcium channel blockers, antiepileptics and anesthetics. Integrating expression quantitative trait locus data implicated 15 genes robustly linked to bipolar disorder via gene expression, encoding druggable targets such as HTR6, MCHR1, DCLK3 and FURIN. Analyses of bipolar disorder subtypes indicated high but imperfect genetic correlation between bipolar disorder type I and II and identified additional associated loci. Together, these results advance our understanding of the biological etiology of bipolar disorder, identify novel therapeutic leads and prioritize genes for functional follow-up studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-021-00857-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8192451PMC
June 2021

A systematic review of biological, social and environmental factors associated with epigenetic clock acceleration.

Ageing Res Rev 2021 08 28;69:101348. Epub 2021 Apr 28.

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

Aging involves a diverse set of biological changes accumulating over time that leads to increased risk of morbidity and mortality. Epigenetic clocks are now widely used to quantify biological aging, in order to investigate determinants that modify the rate of aging and to predict age-related outcomes. Numerous biological, social and environmental factors have been investigated for their relationship to epigenetic clock acceleration and deceleration. The aim of this review was to synthesize general trends concerning the associations between human epigenetic clocks and these investigated factors. We conducted a systematic review of all available literature and included 156 publications across 4 resource databases. We compiled a list of all presently existing blood-based epigenetic clocks. Subsequently, we created an extensive dataset of over 1300 study findings in which epigenetic clocks were utilized in blood tissue of human subjects to assess the relationship between these clocks and numeral environmental exposures and human traits. Statistical analysis was possible on 57 such relationships, measured across 4 different epigenetic clocks (Hannum, Horvath, Levine and GrimAge). We found that the Horvath, Hannum, Levine and GrimAge epigenetic clocks tend to agree in direction of effects, but vary in size. Body mass index, HIV infection, and male sex were significantly associated with acceleration of one or more epigenetic clocks. Acceleration of epigenetic clocks was also significantly related to mortality, cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. Our findings provide a graphical and numerical synopsis of the past decade of epigenetic age estimation research and indicate areas where further attention could be focused in the coming years.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.arr.2021.101348DOI Listing
August 2021

Author Correction: Functional connectome differences in individuals with hallucinations across the psychosis continuum.

Sci Rep 2021 Apr 14;11(1):8540. Epub 2021 Apr 14.

Department of Biomedical Sciences of Cells and Systems, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Neuroimaging Center, PO Box 196, 9700 AD, Groningen, The Netherlands.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-87849-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8046756PMC
April 2021

Functional connectome differences in individuals with hallucinations across the psychosis continuum.

Sci Rep 2021 01 13;11(1):1108. Epub 2021 Jan 13.

Department of Biomedical Sciences of Cells and Systems, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Neuroimaging Center, PO Box 196, 9700 AD, Groningen, The Netherlands.

Hallucinations may arise from an imbalance between sensory and higher cognitive brain regions, reflected by alterations in functional connectivity. It is unknown whether hallucinations across the psychosis continuum exhibit similar alterations in functional connectivity, suggesting a common neural mechanism, or whether different mechanisms link to hallucinations across phenotypes. We acquired resting-state functional MRI scans of 483 participants, including 40 non-clinical individuals with hallucinations, 99 schizophrenia patients with hallucinations, 74 bipolar-I disorder patients with hallucinations, 42 bipolar-I disorder patients without hallucinations, and 228 healthy controls. The weighted connectivity matrices were compared using network-based statistics. Non-clinical individuals with hallucinations and schizophrenia patients with hallucinations exhibited increased connectivity, mainly among fronto-temporal and fronto-insula/cingulate areas compared to controls (P < 0.001 adjusted). Differential effects were observed for bipolar-I disorder patients with hallucinations versus controls, mainly characterized by decreased connectivity between fronto-temporal and fronto-striatal areas (P = 0.012 adjusted). No connectivity alterations were found between bipolar-I disorder patients without hallucinations and controls. Our results support the notion that hallucinations in non-clinical individuals and schizophrenia patients are related to altered interactions between sensory and higher-order cognitive brain regions. However, a different dysconnectivity pattern was observed for bipolar-I disorder patients with hallucinations, which implies a different neural mechanism across the psychosis continuum.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-80657-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7806763PMC
January 2021

Epigenome-wide meta-analysis of PTSD across 10 military and civilian cohorts identifies methylation changes in AHRR.

Nat Commun 2020 11 24;11(1):5965. Epub 2020 Nov 24.

Brown University, Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Department of Pediatric Research, Providence, RI, USA.

Epigenetic differences may help to distinguish between PTSD cases and trauma-exposed controls. Here, we describe the results of the largest DNA methylation meta-analysis of PTSD to date. Ten cohorts, military and civilian, contribute blood-derived DNA methylation data from 1,896 PTSD cases and trauma-exposed controls. Four CpG sites within the aryl-hydrocarbon receptor repressor (AHRR) associate with PTSD after adjustment for multiple comparisons, with lower DNA methylation in PTSD cases relative to controls. Although AHRR methylation is known to associate with smoking, the AHRR association with PTSD is most pronounced in non-smokers, suggesting the result was independent of smoking status. Evaluation of metabolomics data reveals that AHRR methylation associated with kynurenine levels, which are lower among subjects with PTSD. This study supports epigenetic differences in those with PTSD and suggests a role for decreased kynurenine as a contributor to immune dysregulation in PTSD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19615-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7686485PMC
November 2020

Distinct non-inflammatory signature of microglia in post-mortem brain tissue of patients with major depressive disorder.

Mol Psychiatry 2020 Oct 7. Epub 2020 Oct 7.

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

Findings from epidemiological studies, biomarker measurements and animal experiments suggest a role for aberrant immune processes in the pathogenesis of major depressive disorder (MDD). Microglia, the resident immune cells of the brain, are likely to play a key role in these processes. Previous post-mortem studies reported conflicting findings regarding microglial activation and an in-depth profiling of those cells in MDD is lacking. The aim of this study was therefore to characterize the phenotype and function of microglia in MDD. We isolated microglia from post-mortem brain tissue of patients with MDD (n = 13-19) and control donors (n = 12-25). Using flow cytometry and quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR), we measured protein and mRNA levels of a panel of microglial markers across four different brain regions (medial frontal gyrus, superior temporal gyrus, thalamus, and subventricular zone). In MDD cases, we found a significant upregulation of CX3CR1 and TMEM119 mRNA expression and a downregulation of CD163 mRNA expression and CD14 protein expression across the four brain regions. Expression levels of microglial activation markers, such as HLA-DRA, IL6, and IL1β, as well as the inflammatory responses to lipopolysaccharide and dexamethasone were unchanged. Our findings suggest that microglia enhance homeostatic functions in MDD but are not immune activated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-020-00896-zDOI Listing
October 2020

Methylation of oxytocin related genes and early life trauma together shape the N170 response to human faces.

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 2020 10;39:19-28

Institute of Education and Child Studies, Leiden University, Leiden, the Netherlands.

Childhood trauma fundamentally shapes social cognition and basic processing of social cues, which frequently cascade into adverse behavioral outcomes. Recent studies indicate that epigenetic changes in oxytocin functioning might contribute to these long-term effects, although a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms is still lacking. The electroencephalographic N170 response to faces might capture a neural response at the core of these interactive effects of oxytocin gene methylation and childhood adversity, given that this response is considered to reflect fundamental face processing, to be susceptible to oxytocin administration and also to be a biomarker of various psychiatric disorders. We assessed the N170 response to neutral faces in relation to participant's (81, women) recalled childhood trauma, methylation of their oxytocin structural (OXTg) and oxytocin receptor (OXTRg) genes, and endogenous levels of cortisol and testosterone. Additionally, we investigated the interactive effect of OXTg methylation and CTQ across three face sets of varying maturity. Methylation of OXTg relates to a weakened N170 response towards adults, children and infants. Moreover, methylation of both OXTRg and OXTg shaped the directionality of adversity effects, predicting a weakened N170 response in those with high methylation and hyper-vigilance with participants with low methylation. Our results are the first to relate OXT(R)g methylation to the N170 response. They shed light on biological processes linking childhood adversity and epigenetic marks to altered behavior and potentially psychopathologies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.euroneuro.2020.08.008DOI Listing
October 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

Functional brain networks in the schizophrenia spectrum and bipolar disorder with psychosis.

NPJ Schizophr 2020 Sep 2;6(1):22. Epub 2020 Sep 2.

University of Groningen, Department of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.

Psychotic experiences have been proposed to lie on a spectrum, ranging from subclinical experiences to treatment-resistant schizophrenia. We aimed to characterize functional connectivity and brain network characteristics in relation to the schizophrenia spectrum and bipolar disorder with psychosis to disentangle neural correlates to psychosis. Additionally, we studied antipsychotic medication and lithium effects on network characteristics. We analyzed functional connectivity strength and network topology in 487 resting-state functional MRI scans of individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorder (SCZ), bipolar disorder with a history of psychotic experiences (BD), treatment-naïve subclinical psychosis (SCP), and healthy controls (HC). Since differences in connectivity strength may confound group comparisons of brain network topology, we analyzed characteristics of the minimum spanning tree (MST), a relatively unbiased backbone of the network. SCZ and SCP subjects had a lower connectivity strength than BD and HC individuals but showed no differences in network topology. In contrast, BD patients showed a less integrated network topology but no disturbances in connectivity strength. No differences in outcome measures were found between SCP and SCZ, or between BD patients that used antipsychotic medication or lithium and those that did not. We conclude that functional networks in patients prone to psychosis have different signatures for chronic SCZ patients and SCP compared to euthymic BD patients, with a limited role for medication. Connectivity strength effects may have confounded previous studies, as no functional network alterations were found in SCZ after strict correction for connectivity strength.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41537-020-00111-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7468123PMC
September 2020

Lithium Use during Pregnancy and the Risk of Miscarriage.

J Clin Med 2020 Jun 11;9(6). Epub 2020 Jun 11.

Department of Psychiatry, Erasmus University Medical Center, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Recent studies have provided new data on the teratogenicity of lithium. Less is known about the risk of miscarriage after lithium use during pregnancy. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between lithium use during pregnancy and miscarriage. Participants were women with bipolar I disorder and one or more pregnancies, of which information on medication use and pregnancy outcome was available ( = 443). The unadjusted odds ratios for miscarriage after lithium use during pregnancy was calculated. Multilevel logistic regression was used to calculate the odds ratio, adjusted for the age at conception and the clustering of pregnancies per woman. Miscarriages occurred in 20.8% of the lithium-exposed pregnancies (16/77), compared with 10.9% of the unexposed pregnancies (40/366) (OR = 2.14; 95% CI: 1.13-4.06). The adjusted odds ratio of miscarriage after lithium use during pregnancy was 2.94 (95% CI: 1.39-6.22). Lithium use during pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm9061819DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7356743PMC
June 2020

Higher cortisol levels may proceed a manic episode and are related to disease severity in patients with bipolar disorder.

Psychoneuroendocrinology 2020 09 28;119:104658. Epub 2020 Apr 28.

Department of Mood Disorders, Parnassia NAH, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Background: Regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is implicated in the pathogenesis of bipolar disorder (BD). However, the relationship between HPA-activity and disease severity is not fully elucidated. In this pilot study we aimed to explore the temporal relationship between HPA-activity and the risk of a manic episode in BD patients type I, by assessing long-term hair cortisol concentrations (HCC). Second, we explored the relation between HCC and the number of previous episodes.

Methods: Hair samples were collected from 45 BD I patients in euthymic or manic state and compared to 17 controls. From each participant, two hair samples of 3 cm length were used to measure long-term cortisol, reflecting retrospect time frames of 1-3 months and 4-6 months respectively prior to sampling.

Results: HCC in the BD group was slightly higher than in the control group in both hair segments (p = 0.049 and 0.03; after adjustment for age, sex, BMI and hair washing frequency p = 0.222 and 0.139). A significant peak in hair cortisol was observed prior to a manic episode (p = 0.036). Furthermore, we found a positive correlation between the number of mood episodes HCC (p = 0.03).

Conclusions: Our results indicate that long-term cortisol levels are slightly higher in BD, and in particular elevated in the months prior to a manic relapse. In addition HCC are positively associated with the number of previous mood episodes in the course of BD type I.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2020.104658DOI Listing
September 2020

The Role of Stress and Mineralocorticoid Receptor Haplotypes in the Development of Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety During Adolescence.

Front Psychiatry 2020 15;11:367. Epub 2020 May 15.

Department of Psychiatry, Amsterdam University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Adolescence is a critical developmental period characterized by heightened levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms. Experiencing chronic or environmental stress, for example, as a result of traumatic events or insensitive parenting, increases the risk for depression and anxiety. However, not all adolescents develop depressive or anxiety symptoms following environmental stressors, due to differences in stress resilience. One of the factors involved in stress resilience is enhanced functionality of the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), one of the two brain receptors for the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of MR functionality result in relatively lower rates of depression, particularly in women that experienced stress. However, much less is known about MR functionality in relation to the development of adolescent depression and to other internalizing behavior problems such as anxiety. We therefore examined whether the effects of a functional MR haplotype (i.e., the MR CA haplotype) on the development of depressive and anxiety symptoms are sex-dependent, as well as interact with environmental stressors. In a community sample of adolescents ( = 343, 9 waves between age 13 and 24), environmental stressors were operationalized as parental psychological control and childhood trauma. Results showed a sex-dependent effect of MR CA haplotype on the development of depressive symptoms but not for anxiety symptoms. MR CA haplotypes were protective for girls but not for boys. This study sheds more light on the sex-dependent effects of MR functionality related to the development of depressive and anxiety symptoms during adolescence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00367DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7242744PMC
May 2020

Vasogenic edema versus neuroplasticity as neural correlates of hippocampal volume increase following electroconvulsive therapy.

Brain Stimul 2020 Jul - Aug;13(4):1080-1086. Epub 2020 Apr 29.

University Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Department of Biomedical Sciences of Cells and Systems, Groningen, the Netherlands.

Background: Volume increases of the hippocampus after electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) are a robust finding, pointing into the direction of neurogenesis. However, such volumetric increases could also be explained by edema and/or neuroplastic changes (such as angiogenesis).

Objectives: If edema explains the volume increase of the hippocampus we hypothesize it would lead to increased mean diffusivity (MD). If neuroplastic would explain the volume increase, it would lead to decreased MD. To investigate angiogenesis as explanation we studied the perfusion fraction f and the pseudodiffusion component D∗ obtained from intravoxel incoherent motion (IVIM) data, and relative perfusion changes obtained from arterial spin labelling (ASL) data.

Methods: Using ultra-high field (7 tesla) MRI we acquired IVIM and ASL data. We compared MD, f, D∗ and ASL values for both hippocampi in 21 patients (before and after 10 ECT sessions) and 8 healthy controls (without ECT) in a linear mixed model adjusting for age and gender.

Results: We found a significant decrease in MD (which was absent in the healthy controls) in the left and right hippocampus (t = -3.98, p < 0.001). In addition, a decrease in f (t = -4.61, p < 0.001, but not in controls) and no differences in D∗ or ASL perfusion values (both p > 0.05) were found.

Conclusions: The decrease in MD in perfusion fraction f suggest that formation of edema nor angiogenesis are responsible for the ECT-induced volume increases in the hippocampus. Also, it supports the hypothesis that hippocampal volume increases might be due to neuroplastic changes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2020.04.017DOI Listing
December 2020

Cannabinoids and psychotic symptoms: A potential role for a genetic variant in the P2X purinoceptor 7 (P2RX7) gene.

Brain Behav Immun 2020 08 21;88:573-581. Epub 2020 Apr 21.

Department of Psychiatry, UMC Utrecht Brain Center, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht University, The Netherlands; Department of psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City, USA. Electronic address:

To investigate the biological mechanisms underlying the higher risk for psychosis in those that use cannabis, we conducted a genome-wide environment-interaction study (GWEIS). In a sample of individuals without a psychiatric disorder (N = 1262), we analyzed the interactions between regular cannabis use and genotype with psychotic-like experiences (PLE) as outcome. PLE were measured using the Community Assessment of Psychic Experiences (CAPE). The sample was enriched for those at the extremes of both cannabis use and PLE to increase power. A single nucleotide polymorphism in the P2RX7 gene (rs7958311) was associated with risk for a high level of psychotic experiences in regular cannabis users (p = 1.10 x10) and in those with high levels of lifetime cannabis use (p = 4.5 × 10). This interaction was replicated in individuals with high levels of lifetime cannabis use in the IMAGEN cohort (N = 1217, p = 0.020). Functional relevance of P2RX7 in cannabis users was suggested by in vitro experiments on activated monocytes. Exposure of these cells to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD) reduced the immunological response of the P2X7 receptor, which was dependent on the identified genetic variant. P2RX7 variants have been implicated in psychiatric disorders before and the P2X7 receptor is involved in pathways relevant to psychosis, such as neurotransmission, synaptic plasticity and immune regulation. We conclude that P2RX7 plays a role in vulnerability to develop psychotic symptoms when using cannabis and point to a new pathway that can potentially be targeted by newly developed P2X7 antagonists.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2020.04.051DOI Listing
August 2020

Fractal biomarker of activity in patients with bipolar disorder.

Psychol Med 2021 Jul 1;51(9):1562-1569. Epub 2020 Apr 1.

Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Background: The output of many healthy physiological systems displays fractal fluctuations with self-similar temporal structures. Altered fractal patterns are associated with pathological conditions. There is evidence that patients with bipolar disorder have altered daily behaviors.

Methods: To test whether fractal patterns in motor activity are altered in patients with bipolar disorder, we analyzed 2-week actigraphy data collected from 106 patients with bipolar disorder type I in a euthymic state, 73 unaffected siblings of patients, and 76 controls. To examine the link between fractal patterns and symptoms, we analyzed 180-day actigraphy and mood symptom data that were simultaneously collected from 14 patients.

Results: Compared to controls, patients showed excessive regularity in motor activity fluctuations at small time scales (<1.5 h) as quantified by a larger scaling exponent (α1 > 1), indicating a more rigid motor control system. α1 values of siblings were between those of patients and controls. Further examinations revealed that the group differences in α1 were only significant in females. Sex also affected the group differences in fractal patterns at larger time scales (>2 h) as quantified by scaling exponent α2. Specifically, female patients and siblings had a smaller α2 compared to female controls, indicating more random activity fluctuations; while male patients had a larger α2 compared to male controls. Interestingly, a higher weekly depression score was associated with a lower α1 in the subsequent week.

Conclusions: Our results show sex- and scale-dependent alterations in fractal activity regulation in patients with bipolar disorder. The mechanisms underlying the alterations are yet to be determined.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291720000331DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8208237PMC
July 2021

Schizophrenia and Epigenetic Aging Biomarkers: Increased Mortality, Reduced Cancer Risk, and Unique Clozapine Effects.

Biol Psychiatry 2020 08 8;88(3):224-235. Epub 2020 Feb 8.

Department of Pathology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.

Background: Schizophrenia (SZ) is associated with increased all-cause mortality, smoking, and age-associated proteins, yet multiple previous studies found no association between SZ and biological age using Horvath's epigenetic clock, a well-established aging biomarker based on DNA methylation. However, numerous epigenetic clocks that may capture distinct aspects of aging have been developed. This study tested the hypothesis that altered aging in SZ manifests in these other clocks.

Methods: We performed a comprehensive analysis of 14 epigenetic clocks categorized according to what they were trained to predict: chronological age, mortality, mitotic divisions, or telomere length. To understand the etiology of biological age differences, we also examined DNA methylation predictors of smoking, alcohol, body mass index, serum proteins, and cell proportions. We independently analyzed 3 publicly available multiethnic DNA methylation data sets from whole blood, a total of 567 SZ cases and 594 nonpsychiatric controls.

Results: All data sets showed accelerations in SZ for the 3 mortality clocks up to 5 years, driven by smoking and elevated levels of 6 age-associated proteins. The 2 mitotic clocks were decelerated in SZ related to antitumor natural killer and CD8T cells, which may help explain conflicting reports about low cancer rates in epidemiological studies of SZ. One cohort with available medication data showed that clozapine is associated with male-specific decelerations up to 7 years in multiple chronological age clocks.

Conclusions: Our study demonstrates the utility of studying the various epigenetic clocks in tandem and highlights potential mechanisms by which mental illness influences long-term outcomes, including cancer and early mortality.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2020.01.025DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7368835PMC
August 2020

An epigenome-wide association study of posttraumatic stress disorder in US veterans implicates several new DNA methylation loci.

Clin Epigenetics 2020 03 14;12(1):46. Epub 2020 Mar 14.

Arq, Psychotrauma Reseach Expert Group, Diemen, NH, Netherlands.

Background: Previous studies using candidate gene and genome-wide approaches have identified epigenetic changes in DNA methylation (DNAm) associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Methods: In this study, we performed an EWAS of PTSD in a cohort of Veterans (n = 378 lifetime PTSD cases and 135 controls) from the Translational Research Center for TBI and Stress Disorders (TRACTS) cohort assessed using the Illumina EPIC Methylation BeadChip which assesses DNAm at more than 850,000 sites throughout the genome. Our model included covariates for ancestry, cell heterogeneity, sex, age, and a smoking score based on DNAm at 39 smoking-associated CpGs. We also examined in EPIC-based DNAm data generated from pre-frontal cortex (PFC) tissue from the National PTSD Brain Bank (n = 72).

Results: The analysis of blood samples yielded one genome-wide significant association with PTSD at cg19534438 in the gene G0S2 (p = 1.19 × 10, p = 0.048). This association was replicated in an independent PGC-PTSD-EWAS consortium meta-analysis of military cohorts (p = 0.0024). We also observed association with the smoking-related locus cg05575921 in AHRR despite inclusion of a methylation-based smoking score covariate (p = 9.16 × 10), which replicates a previously observed PGC-PTSD-EWAS association (Smith et al. 2019), and yields evidence consistent with a smoking-independent effect. The top 100 EWAS loci were then examined in the PFC data. One of the blood-based PTSD loci, cg04130728 in CHST11, which was in the top 10 loci in blood, but which was not genome-wide significant, was significantly associated with PTSD in brain tissue (in blood p = 1.19 × 10, p = 0.60, in brain, p = 0.00032 with the same direction of effect). Gene set enrichment analysis of the top 500 EWAS loci yielded several significant overlapping GO terms involved in pathogen response, including "Response to lipopolysaccharide" (p = 6.97 × 10, p = 0.042).

Conclusions: The cross replication observed in independent cohorts is evidence that DNA methylation in peripheral tissue can yield consistent and replicable PTSD associations, and our results also suggest that that some PTSD associations observed in peripheral tissue may mirror associations in the brain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13148-020-0820-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7071645PMC
March 2020

Longitudinal epigenome-wide association studies of three male military cohorts reveal multiple CpG sites associated with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Clin Epigenetics 2020 01 13;12(1):11. Epub 2020 Jan 13.

Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, School for Mental health and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands.

Background: Epigenetic mechanisms have been suggested to play a role in the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Here, blood-derived DNA methylation data (HumanMethylation450 BeadChip) collected prior to and following combat exposure in three cohorts of male military members were analyzed to assess whether DNA methylation profiles are associated with the development of PTSD. A total of 123 PTSD cases and 143 trauma-exposed controls were included in the analyses. The Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) PTSD EWAS QC pipeline was used on all cohorts, and results were combined using a sample size weighted meta-analysis in a two-stage design. In stage one, we jointly analyzed data of two new cohorts (N = 126 and 78) for gene discovery, and sought to replicate significant findings in a third, previously published cohort (N = 62) to assess the robustness of our results. In stage 2, we aimed at maximizing power for gene discovery by combining all three cohorts in a meta-analysis.

Results: Stage 1 analyses identified four CpG sites in which, conditional on pre-deployment DNA methylation, post-deployment DNA methylation was significantly associated with PTSD status after epigenome-wide adjustment for multiple comparisons. The most significant (intergenic) CpG cg05656210 (p = 1.0 × 10) was located on 5q31 and significantly replicated in the third cohort. In addition, 19 differentially methylated regions (DMRs) were identified, but failed replication. Stage 2 analyses identified three epigenome-wide significant CpGs, the intergenic CpG cg05656210 and two additional CpGs located in MAD1L1 (cg12169700) and HEXDC (cg20756026). Interestingly, cg12169700 had an underlying single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) which was located within the same LD block as a recently identified PTSD-associated SNP in MAD1L1. Stage 2 analyses further identified 12 significant differential methylated regions (DMRs), 1 of which was located in MAD1L1 and 4 were situated in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) region.

Conclusions: This study suggests that the development of combat-related PTSD is associated with distinct methylation patterns in several genomic positions and regions. Our most prominent findings suggest the involvement of the immune system through the HLA region and HEXDC, and MAD1L1 which was previously associated with PTSD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13148-019-0798-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6958602PMC
January 2020

Circulating Serum MicroRNAs as Potential Diagnostic Biomarkers of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Pilot Study.

Front Genet 2019 22;10:1042. Epub 2019 Nov 22.

Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can develop upon exposure to a traumatic event. While most people are able to recover promptly, others are at increased risk of developing PTSD. However, the exact underlying biological mechanisms of differential susceptibility are unknown. Identifying biomarkers of PTSD could assist in its diagnosis and facilitate treatment planning. Here, we identified serum microRNAs (miRNAs) of subjects that underwent a traumatic event and aimed to assess their potential to serve as diagnostic biomarkers of PTSD. Next-generation sequencing was performed to examine circulating miRNA profiles of 24 members belonging to the Dutch military cohort Prospective Research in Stress-Related Military Operations (PRISMO). Three groups were selected: "susceptible" subjects who developed PTSD after combat exposure, "resilient" subjects without PTSD, and nonexposed control subjects ( = 8 per group). Differential expression analysis revealed 22 differentially expressed miRNAs in PTSD subjects compared to controls and 1 in PTSD subjects compared to resilient individuals (after multiple testing correction and a log2 fold-change cutoff of ≥|1|). Weighted Gene Coexpression Network Analysis (WGCNA) identified a module of coexpressed miRNAs which could distinguish between the three groups. In addition, receiver operating characteristic curve analyses suggest that the miRNAs with the highest module memberships could have a strong diagnostic accuracy as reflected by high areas under the curves. Overall, the results of our pilot study suggest that serum miRNAs could potentially serve as diagnostic biomarkers of PTSD, both individually or grouped within a cluster of coexpressed miRNAs. Larger studies are now needed to validate and build upon these preliminary findings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2019.01042DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6883918PMC
November 2019

The association between antibodies to neurotropic pathogens and bipolar disorder : A study in the Dutch Bipolar (DB) Cohort and meta-analysis.

Transl Psychiatry 2019 11 20;9(1):311. Epub 2019 Nov 20.

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

Exposure to neurotropic pathogens has been hypothesized to be a risk factor for the development of bipolar disorder (BD). However, evidence so far is inconsistent. We, therefore, analyzed the seroprevalence and titer levels of IgG antibodies against several herpesviruses and Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) in plasma of 760 patients with a bipolar disorder, 144 first-degree matched relatives and 132 controls of the Dutch Bipolar (DB) Cohort using ELISA. In addition, we performed a literature-based meta-analysis on the seroprevalence of IgG antibodies against these pathogens (n = 14). Our results in the DB Cohort and subsequent meta-analysis (n = 2364 BD patients, n = 5101 controls) show no association between exposure to herpesviruses and bipolar disorder (HSV-1 [adjusted OR 0.842, 95% CI 0.567-1.230], HSV-2 [adjusted OR 0.877, 95% CI 0.437-1.761], CMV [adjusted OR 0.884 95% CI 0.603-1.295], EBV [adjusted OR 0.968 95% CI 0.658-1.423]). In the DB Cohort, we did not find an association between bipolar disorder and T. gondii titer or seroprevalence either [adjusted OR 1.018, 95% CI 0.672-1.542]. The overall OR was not significant for T. gondii [OR: 1.4, 95% CI 0.95-1.90, p = 0.09), but subgroup analyses in age groups below 40 years showed a significantly increased seroprevalence of T. gondii IgGs in BD [OR: 1.8 (95% CI 1.10-2.89, p = 0.021]. Our meta-analysis indicates that T. gondii exposure may be a risk factor for BD in certain subpopulations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-019-0636-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6868237PMC
November 2019

Evolutionary modifications in human brain connectivity associated with schizophrenia.

Brain 2019 12;142(12):3991-4002

Center for Translational Social Neuroscience, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA.

The genetic basis and human-specific character of schizophrenia has led to the hypothesis that human brain evolution may have played a role in the development of the disorder. We examined schizophrenia-related changes in brain connectivity in the context of evolutionary changes in human brain wiring by comparing in vivo neuroimaging data from humans and chimpanzees, one of our closest living evolutionary relatives and a species with which we share a very recent common ancestor. We contrasted the connectome layout between the chimpanzee and human brain and compared differences with the pattern of schizophrenia-related changes in brain connectivity as observed in patients. We show evidence of evolutionary modifications of human brain connectivity to significantly overlap with the cortical pattern of schizophrenia-related dysconnectivity (P < 0.001, permutation testing). We validated these effects in three additional, independent schizophrenia datasets. We further assessed the specificity of effects by examining brain dysconnectivity patterns in seven other psychiatric and neurological brain disorders (including, among others, major depressive disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, arguably characterized by behavioural symptoms that are less specific to humans), which showed no such associations with modifications of human brain connectivity. Comparisons of brain connectivity across humans, chimpanzee and macaques further suggest that features of connectivity that evolved in the human lineage showed the strongest association to the disorder, that is, brain circuits potentially related to human evolutionary specializations. Taken together, our findings suggest that human-specific features of connectome organization may be enriched for changes in brain connectivity related to schizophrenia. Modifications in human brain connectivity in service of higher order brain functions may have potentially also rendered the brain vulnerable to brain dysfunction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awz330DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6906591PMC
December 2019

Successful treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder reverses DNA methylation marks.

Mol Psychiatry 2021 04 23;26(4):1264-1271. Epub 2019 Oct 23.

UMC Utrecht Brain Center, University Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Epigenetic mechanisms play a role in the detrimental effects of traumatic stress and the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, it is unknown whether successful treatment of PTSD restores these epigenetic marks. This study investigated longitudinal changes of blood-based genome-wide DNA methylation levels in relation to trauma-focused psychotherapy for PTSD in soldiers that obtained remission (N = 21), non-remitted PTSD patients (N = 23), and trauma-exposed military controls (N = 23). In an independent prospective cohort, we then examined whether these DMRs were also relevant for the development of deployment-related PTSD (N = 85). Successful treatment of PTSD was accompanied by significant changes in DNA methylation at 12 differentially methylated regions (DMRs) in the genes: APOB, MUC4, EDN2, ZFP57, GPX6, CFAP45, AFF3, TP73, UBCLP1, RPL13P, and two intergenic regions (p values < 0.0001 were confirmed using permutation and sensitivity analyses). Of the 12 DMRs related to PTSD symptom reduction, consistent prospective evidence was found for ZFP57 methylation changes related to changing PTSD symptoms (B = -0.84, t = -2.49, p = 0.014). Increasing ZFP57 methylation related to PTSD symptom reduction was present over and above the relation with symptoms, suggesting that psychological treatments exert biological effects independent of symptom reduction. Together, these data provide longitudinal evidence that ZFP57 methylation is involved in both the development and successful treatment of deployment-related PTSD. This study is a first step to disentangle the interaction between psychological and biological systems to identify genomic regions relevant for the etiology and treatment of stress-related disorders such as PTSD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-019-0549-3DOI Listing
April 2021

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

Multivariate genome-wide analysis of stress-related quantitative phenotypes.

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 2019 12 9;29(12):1354-1364. Epub 2019 Oct 9.

Department of Psychiatry, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, the Netherlands; Department of Translational Neuroscience, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, the Netherlands; GGNet, Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. Electronic address:

Exposure to traumatic stress increases the odds of developing a broad range of psychiatric conditions. Genetic studies targeting multiple stress-related quantitative phenotypes may shed light on mechanisms underlying vulnerability to psychopathology in the aftermath of stressful events. We applied a multivariate genome-wide association study (GWAS) to a unique military cohort (N = 583) in which we measured biochemical and behavioral phenotypes. The availability of pre- and post-deployment measurements allowed to capture changes in these phenotypes in response to stress. For genome-wide significant loci, we performed functional annotation, phenome-wide analysis and quasi-replication in PTSD case-control GWASs. We discovered one genetic variant reaching genome-wide significant association, surviving permutation and sensitivity analyses (rs10100651, p = 9.9 × 10). Functional annotation prioritized the genes INTS8 and TP53INP1. A phenome-wide scan revealed a significant association of these same genes with sleeping problems, hypertension and subjective well-being. Finally, a targeted lookup revealed nominally significant association of rs10100651 in a PTSD case-control GWAS in the UK Biobank (p = 0.02). We provide comprehensive evidence from multiple resources hinting at a role of the highlighted genetic variant in the human stress response, marking the power of multivariate genome-wide analysis of quantitative measures in stress research. Future genetic and functional studies can target this locus to further assess its effects on stress mediation and its possible role in psychopathology or resilience.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.euroneuro.2019.09.012DOI Listing
December 2019

International meta-analysis of PTSD genome-wide association studies identifies sex- and ancestry-specific genetic risk loci.

Nat Commun 2019 10 8;10(1):4558. Epub 2019 Oct 8.

Durham VA Medical Center, Research, Durham, NC, USA.

The risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following trauma is heritable, but robust common variants have yet to be identified. In a multi-ethnic cohort including over 30,000 PTSD cases and 170,000 controls we conduct a genome-wide association study of PTSD. We demonstrate SNP-based heritability estimates of 5-20%, varying by sex. Three genome-wide significant loci are identified, 2 in European and 1 in African-ancestry analyses. Analyses stratified by sex implicate 3 additional loci in men. Along with other novel genes and non-coding RNAs, a Parkinson's disease gene involved in dopamine regulation, PARK2, is associated with PTSD. Finally, we demonstrate that polygenic risk for PTSD is significantly predictive of re-experiencing symptoms in the Million Veteran Program dataset, although specific loci did not replicate. These results demonstrate the role of genetic variation in the biology of risk for PTSD and highlight the necessity of conducting sex-stratified analyses and expanding GWAS beyond European ancestry populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12576-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6783435PMC
October 2019

Whole blood transcriptome analysis in bipolar disorder reveals strong lithium effect.

Psychol Med 2020 11 7;50(15):2575-2586. Epub 2019 Oct 7.

Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Background: Bipolar disorder (BD) is a highly heritable mood disorder with complex genetic architecture and poorly understood etiology. Previous transcriptomic BD studies have had inconsistent findings due to issues such as small sample sizes and difficulty in adequately accounting for confounders like medication use.

Methods: We performed a differential expression analysis in a well-characterized BD case-control sample (Nsubjects = 480) by RNA sequencing of whole blood. We further performed co-expression network analysis, functional enrichment, and cell type decomposition, and integrated differentially expressed genes with genetic risk.

Results: While we observed widespread differential gene expression patterns between affected and unaffected individuals, these effects were largely linked to lithium treatment at the time of blood draw (FDR < 0.05, Ngenes = 976) rather than BD diagnosis itself (FDR < 0.05, Ngenes = 6). These lithium-associated genes were enriched for cell signaling and immune response functional annotations, among others, and were associated with neutrophil cell-type proportions, which were elevated in lithium users. Neither genes with altered expression in cases nor in lithium users were enriched for BD, schizophrenia, and depression genetic risk based on information from genome-wide association studies, nor was gene expression associated with polygenic risk scores for BD.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that BD is associated with minimal changes in whole blood gene expression independent of medication use but emphasize the importance of accounting for medication use and cell type heterogeneity in psychiatric transcriptomic studies. The results of this study add to mounting evidence of lithium's cell signaling and immune-related mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291719002745DOI Listing
November 2020
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