Publications by authors named "Markus Nöthen"

571 Publications

Cis-epistasis at the LPA locus and risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Cardiovasc Res 2021 Apr 20. Epub 2021 Apr 20.

Estonian Genome Center, Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu, 51010, Tartu, Estonia.

Aims: Coronary artery disease (CAD) has a strong genetic predisposition. However, despite substantial discoveries made by genome-wide association studies (GWAS), a large proportion of heritability awaits identification. Non-additive genetic-effects might be responsible for part of the unaccounted genetic variance. Here we attempted a proof-of-concept study to identify non-additive genetic effects, namely epistatic interactions, associated with CAD.

Methods And Results: We tested for epistatic interactions in ten CAD case-control studies and UK Biobank with focus on 8,068 SNPs at 56 loci with known associations with CAD risk. We identified a SNP pair located in cis at the LPA locus, rs1800769 and rs9458001, to be jointly associated with risk for CAD (odds ratio [OR]=1.37, p = 1.07 × 10-11), peripheral arterial disease (OR = 1.22, p = 2.32 × 10-4), aortic stenosis (OR = 1.47, p = 6.95 × 10-7), hepatic lipoprotein(a) (Lp(a)) transcript levels (beta = 0.39, p = 1.41 × 10-8), and Lp(a) serum levels (beta = 0.58, p = 8.7 × 10-32), while individual SNPs displayed no association. Further exploration of the LPA locus revealed a strong dependency of these associations on a rare variant, rs140570886, that was previously associated with Lp(a) levels. We confirmed increased CAD risk for heterozygous (relative OR = 1.46, p = 9.97 × 10-32) and individuals homozygous for the minor allele (relative OR = 1.77, p = 0.09) of rs140570886. Using forward model selection, we also show that epistatic interactions between rs140570886, rs9458001, and rs1800769 modulate the effects of the rs140570886 risk allele.

Conclusions: These results demonstrate the feasibility of a large-scale knowledge-based epistasis scan and provide rare evidence of an epistatic interaction in a complex human disease. We were directed to a variant (rs140570886) influencing risk through additive genetic as well as epistatic effects. In summary, this study provides deeper insights into the genetic architecture of a locus important for cardiovascular diseases.

Translational Perspective: Genetic variants identified by GWAS studies explain about a quarter of the heritability of coronary artery disease by additive genetic effects. Our study demonstrates that non-additive effects contribute to the genetic architecture of the disease as well and identifies complex interaction patterns at the LPA locus, which affect LPA expression, Lp(a) plasma levels and risk of atherosclerosis. This proof-of-concept study encourages systematic searches for epistatic interactions in further studies to shed new light on the aetiology of the disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvab136DOI Listing
April 2021

Effects of polygenic risk for major mental disorders and cross-disorder on cortical complexity.

Psychol Med 2021 Apr 8:1-12. Epub 2021 Apr 8.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Rudolf-Bultmann-Str. 8, 35039Marburg, Germany.

Background: MRI-derived cortical folding measures are an indicator of largely genetically driven early developmental processes. However, the effects of genetic risk for major mental disorders on early brain development are not well understood.

Methods: We extracted cortical complexity values from structural MRI data of 580 healthy participants using the CAT12 toolbox. Polygenic risk scores (PRS) for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, and cross-disorder (incorporating cumulative genetic risk for depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) were computed and used in separate general linear models with cortical complexity as the regressand. In brain regions that showed a significant association between polygenic risk for mental disorders and cortical complexity, volume of interest (VOI)/region of interest (ROI) analyses were conducted to investigate additional changes in their volume and cortical thickness.

Results: The PRS for depression was associated with cortical complexity in the right orbitofrontal cortex (right hemisphere: p = 0.006). A subsequent VOI/ROI analysis showed no association between polygenic risk for depression and either grey matter volume or cortical thickness. We found no associations between cortical complexity and polygenic risk for either schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychiatric cross-disorder when correcting for multiple testing.

Conclusions: Changes in cortical complexity associated with polygenic risk for depression might facilitate well-established volume changes in orbitofrontal cortices in depression. Despite the absence of psychopathology, changed cortical complexity that parallels polygenic risk for depression might also change reward systems, which are also structurally affected in patients with depressive syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291721001082DOI Listing
April 2021

Genetic factors influencing a neurobiological substrate for psychiatric disorders.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 Mar 29;11(1):192. Epub 2021 Mar 29.

Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine (INM-1, INM-7), Research Centre Jülich, Jülich, Germany.

A retrospective meta-analysis of magnetic resonance imaging voxel-based morphometry studies proposed that reduced gray matter volumes in the dorsal anterior cingulate and the left and right anterior insular cortex-areas that constitute hub nodes of the salience network-represent a common substrate for major psychiatric disorders. Here, we investigated the hypothesis that the common substrate serves as an intermediate phenotype to detect genetic risk variants relevant for psychiatric disease. To this end, after a data reduction step, we conducted genome-wide association studies of a combined common substrate measure in four population-based cohorts (n = 2271), followed by meta-analysis and replication in a fifth cohort (n = 865). After correction for covariates, the heritability of the common substrate was estimated at 0.50 (standard error 0.18). The top single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs17076061 was associated with the common substrate at genome-wide significance and replicated, explaining 1.2% of the common substrate variance. This SNP mapped to a locus on chromosome 5q35.2 harboring genes involved in neuronal development and regeneration. In follow-up analyses, rs17076061 was not robustly associated with psychiatric disease, and no overlap was found between the broader genetic architecture of the common substrate and genetic risk for major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. In conclusion, our study identified that common genetic variation indeed influences the common substrate, but that these variants do not directly translate to increased disease risk. Future studies should investigate gene-by-environment interactions and employ functional imaging to understand how salience network structure translates to psychiatric disorder risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01317-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8007575PMC
March 2021

DNA repair gene polymorphisms and chromosomal aberrations in healthy, nonsmoking population.

DNA Repair (Amst) 2021 May 27;101:103079. Epub 2021 Feb 27.

Department of Molecular Genetic Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Im Neuenheimer Feld 580, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany; Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Center in Pilsen, Charles University in Prague, 30605 Pilsen, Czech Republic; Division of Cancer Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.

Nonspecific structural chromosomal aberrations (CAs) can be found at around 1% of circulating lymphocytes from healthy individuals but the frequency may be higher after exposure to carcinogenic chemicals or radiation. The frequency of CAs has been measured in occupational monitoring and an increased frequency of CAs has also been associated with cancer risk. Alterations in DNA damage repair and telomere maintenance are thought to contribute to the formation of CAs, which include chromosome type of aberrations and chromatid type of aberrations. In the present study, we used the result of our published genome-wide association studies to extract data on 153 DNA repair genes from 866 nonsmoking persons who had no known occupational exposure to genotoxic substances. Considering an arbitrary cut-off level of P< 5 × 10, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) tagging 22 DNA repair genes were significantly associated with CAs and they remained significant at P < 0.05 when adjustment for multiple comparisons was done by the Binomial Sequential Goodness of Fit test. Nucleotide excision repair pathway genes showed most associations with 6 genes. Among the associated genes were several in which mutations manifest CA phenotype, including Fanconi anemia, WRN, BLM and genes that are important in maintaining genome stability, as well as PARP2 and mismatch repair genes. RPA2 and RPA3 may participate in telomere maintenance through the synthesis of the C strand of telomeres. Errors in NHEJ1 function may lead to translocations. The present results show associations with some genes with known CA phenotype and suggest other pathways with mechanistic rationale for the formation of CAs in healthy nonsmoking population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dnarep.2021.103079DOI Listing
May 2021

Apolipoprotein E homozygous ε4 allele status: Effects on cortical structure and white matter integrity in a young to mid-age sample.

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 2021 May 27;46:93-104. Epub 2021 Feb 27.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Münster, Münster, Germany. Electronic address:

Apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype is the strongest single gene predictor of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and has been frequently associated with AD-related brain structural alterations before the onset of dementia. While previous research has primarily focused on hippocampal morphometry in relation to APOE, sporadic recent findings have questioned the specificity of the hippocampus and instead suggested more global effects on the brain. With the present study we aimed to investigate associations between homozygous APOE ε4 status and cortical gray matter structure as well as white matter microstructure. In our study, we contrasted n = 31 homozygous APOE ε4 carriers (age=34.47 years, including a subsample of n = 12 subjects with depression) with a demographically matched sample without an ε4 allele (resulting total sample: N = 62). Morphometry analyses included a) Freesurfer based cortical segmentations of thickness and surface area measures and b) tract based spatial statistics of DTI measures. We found pronounced and widespread reductions in cortical surface area of ε4 homozygotes in 57 out of 68 cortical brain regions. In contrast, no differences in cortical thickness were observed. Furthermore, APOE ε4 homozygous carriers showed significantly lower fractional anisotropy in the corpus callosum, the right internal and external capsule, the left corona radiata and the right fornix. The present findings support a global rather than regionally specific effect of homozygous APOE ε4 allele status on cortical surface area and white matter microstructure. Future studies should aim to delineate the clinical implications of these findings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.euroneuro.2021.02.006DOI Listing
May 2021

"The Heidelberg Five" personality dimensions: Genome-wide associations, polygenic risk for neuroticism, and psychopathology 20 years after assessment.

Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet 2021 03 15;186(2):77-89. Epub 2021 Feb 15.

Institute of Psychiatric Phenomics and Genomics (IPPG), University Hospital, LMU Munich, Munich, Germany.

HeiDE is a longitudinal population-based study that started in the 1990s and, at baseline, assessed an array of health-related personality questionnaires in 5133 individuals. Five latent personality dimensions (The Heidelberg Five) were identified and interpreted as Emotional Lability (ELAB), Lack of Behavioral Control (LBCN), Type A Behavior (TYAB), Locus of Control over Disease (LOCC), and Psychoticism (PSYC). At follow-up, 3268 HeiDE participants (post-QC) were genotyped on single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays. To further characterize The Heidelberg Five, we analyzed genomic underpinnings, their relations to the genetic basis of the Big Five trait Neuroticism, and longitudinal associations with psychiatric symptoms at follow-up. SNP-based heritability was significant for ELAB (34%) and LBCN (29%). A genome-wide association study for each personality dimension was conducted; only the phenotype PSYC yielded a genome-wide significant finding (p < 5 × 10 , top SNP rs138223660). Gene-based analyses identified significant findings for ELAB, TYAB, and PSYC. Polygenic risk scores for Neuroticism were only associated with ELAB. Each of The Heidelberg Five was related to depressive symptoms at follow-up. ELAB, LBCN, and PSYC were also associated with lifetime anxiety symptoms. These results highlight the clinical importance of health-related personality traits and identify LBCN as a heritable "executive function" personality trait.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.b.32837DOI Listing
March 2021

Exome-Wide Association Study Identifies FN3KRP and PGP as New Candidate Longevity Genes.

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2021 Apr;76(5):786-795

Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, Kiel University, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.

Despite enormous research efforts, the genetic component of longevity has remained largely elusive. The investigation of common variants, mainly located in intronic or regulatory regions, has yielded only little new information on the heritability of the phenotype. Here, we performed a chip-based exome-wide association study investigating 62 488 common and rare coding variants in 1248 German long-lived individuals, including 599 centenarians and 6941 younger controls (age < 60 years). In a single-variant analysis, we observed an exome-wide significant association between rs1046896 in the gene fructosamine-3-kinase-related-protein (FN3KRP) and longevity. Noteworthy, we found the longevity allele C of rs1046896 to be associated with an increased FN3KRP expression in whole blood; a database look-up confirmed this effect for various other human tissues. A gene-based analysis, in which potential cumulative effects of common and rare variants were considered, yielded the gene phosphoglycolate phosphatase (PGP) as another potential longevity gene, though no single variant in PGP reached the discovery p-value (1 × 10E-04). Furthermore, we validated the previously reported longevity locus cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2B antisense RNA 1 (CDKN2B-AS1). Replication of our results in a French longevity cohort was only successful for rs1063192 in CDKN2B-AS1. In conclusion, we identified 2 new potential candidate longevity genes, FN3KRP and PGP which may influence the phenotype through their role in metabolic processes, that is, the reverse glycation of proteins (FN3KRP) and the control of glycerol-3-phosphate levels (PGP).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glab023DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8087267PMC
April 2021

Synaptic processes and immune-related pathways implicated in Tourette syndrome.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 01 18;11(1):56. Epub 2021 Jan 18.

Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Université Paris 06, UMR S 1127, CNRS UMR 7225, ICM, Paris, France.

Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neuropsychiatric disorder of complex genetic architecture involving multiple interacting genes. Here, we sought to elucidate the pathways that underlie the neurobiology of the disorder through genome-wide analysis. We analyzed genome-wide genotypic data of 3581 individuals with TS and 7682 ancestry-matched controls and investigated associations of TS with sets of genes that are expressed in particular cell types and operate in specific neuronal and glial functions. We employed a self-contained, set-based association method (SBA) as well as a competitive gene set method (MAGMA) using individual-level genotype data to perform a comprehensive investigation of the biological background of TS. Our SBA analysis identified three significant gene sets after Bonferroni correction, implicating ligand-gated ion channel signaling, lymphocytic, and cell adhesion and transsynaptic signaling processes. MAGMA analysis further supported the involvement of the cell adhesion and trans-synaptic signaling gene set. The lymphocytic gene set was driven by variants in FLT3, raising an intriguing hypothesis for the involvement of a neuroinflammatory element in TS pathogenesis. The indications of involvement of ligand-gated ion channel signaling reinforce the role of GABA in TS, while the association of cell adhesion and trans-synaptic signaling gene set provides additional support for the role of adhesion molecules in neuropsychiatric disorders. This study reinforces previous findings but also provides new insights into the neurobiology of TS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-01082-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7814139PMC
January 2021

Prediction of lithium response using genomic data.

Sci Rep 2021 Jan 13;11(1):1155. Epub 2021 Jan 13.

Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

Predicting lithium response prior to treatment could both expedite therapy and avoid exposure to side effects. Since lithium responsiveness may be heritable, its predictability based on genomic data is of interest. We thus evaluate the degree to which lithium response can be predicted with a machine learning (ML) approach using genomic data. Using the largest existing genomic dataset in the lithium response literature (n = 2210 across 14 international sites; 29% responders), we evaluated the degree to which lithium response could be predicted based on 47,465 genotyped single nucleotide polymorphisms using a supervised ML approach. Under appropriate cross-validation procedures, lithium response could be predicted to above-chance levels in two constituent sites (Halifax, Cohen's kappa 0.15, 95% confidence interval, CI [0.07, 0.24]; and Würzburg, kappa 0.2 [0.1, 0.3]). Variants with shared importance in these models showed over-representation of postsynaptic membrane related genes. Lithium response was not predictable in the pooled dataset (kappa 0.02 [- 0.01, 0.04]), although non-trivial performance was achieved within a restricted dataset including only those patients followed prospectively (kappa 0.09 [0.04, 0.14]). Genomic classification of lithium response remains a promising but difficult task. Classification performance could potentially be improved by further harmonization of data collection procedures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-80814-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7806976PMC
January 2021

Exemplar scoring identifies genetically separable phenotypes of lithium responsive bipolar disorder.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 01 11;11(1):36. Epub 2021 Jan 11.

Department of Psychiatry, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic.

Predicting lithium response (LiR) in bipolar disorder (BD) may inform treatment planning, but phenotypic heterogeneity complicates discovery of genomic markers. We hypothesized that patients with "exemplary phenotypes"-those whose clinical features are reliably associated with LiR and non-response (LiNR)-are more genetically separable than those with less exemplary phenotypes. Using clinical data collected from people with BD (n = 1266 across 7 centers; 34.7% responders), we computed a "clinical exemplar score," which measures the degree to which a subject's clinical phenotype is reliably predictive of LiR/LiNR. For patients whose genotypes were available (n = 321), we evaluated whether a subgroup of responders/non-responders with the top 25% of clinical exemplar scores (the "best clinical exemplars") were more accurately classified based on genetic data, compared to a subgroup with the lowest 25% of clinical exemplar scores (the "poor clinical exemplars"). On average, the best clinical exemplars of LiR had a later illness onset, completely episodic clinical course, absence of rapid cycling and psychosis, and few psychiatric comorbidities. The best clinical exemplars of LiR and LiNR were genetically separable with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.88 (IQR [0.83, 0.98]), compared to 0.66 [0.61, 0.80] (p = 0.0032) among poor clinical exemplars. Variants in the Alzheimer's amyloid-secretase pathway, along with G-protein-coupled receptor, muscarinic acetylcholine, and histamine H1R signaling pathways were informative predictors. This study must be replicated on larger samples and extended to predict response to other mood stabilizers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-01148-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7801503PMC
January 2021

Clinical and genetic differences between bipolar disorder type 1 and 2 in multiplex families.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 01 11;11(1):31. Epub 2021 Jan 11.

Department of Genetic Epidemiology in Psychiatry, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany.

The two major subtypes of bipolar disorder (BD), BD-I and BD-II, are distinguished based on the presence of manic or hypomanic episodes. Historically, BD-II was perceived as a less severe form of BD-I. Recent research has challenged this concept of a severity continuum. Studies in large samples of unrelated patients have described clinical and genetic differences between the subtypes. Besides an increased schizophrenia polygenic risk load in BD-I, these studies also observed an increased depression risk load in BD-II patients. The present study assessed whether such clinical and genetic differences are also found in BD patients from multiplex families, which exhibit reduced genetic and environmental heterogeneity. Comparing 252 BD-I and 75 BD-II patients from the Andalusian Bipolar Family (ABiF) study, the clinical course, symptoms during depressive and manic episodes, and psychiatric comorbidities were analyzed. Furthermore, polygenic risk scores (PRS) for BD, schizophrenia, and depression were assessed. BD-I patients not only suffered from more severe symptoms during manic episodes but also more frequently showed incapacity during depressive episodes. A higher BD PRS was significantly associated with suicidal ideation. Moreover, BD-I cases exhibited lower depression PRS. In line with a severity continuum from BD-II to BD-I, our results link BD-I to a more pronounced clinical presentation in both mania and depression and indicate that the polygenic risk load of BD predisposes to more severe disorder characteristics. Nevertheless, our results suggest that the genetic risk burden for depression also shapes disorder presentation and increases the likelihood of BD-II subtype development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-01146-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7801527PMC
January 2021

Germline variation in the insulin-like growth factor pathway and risk of Barrett's esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma.

Carcinogenesis 2021 Apr;42(3):369-377

Department of Medicine, Institute of Clinical Science, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, UK.

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) and its precursor, Barrett's esophagus (BE), have uncovered significant genetic components of risk, but most heritability remains unexplained. Targeted assessment of genetic variation in biologically relevant pathways using novel analytical approaches may identify missed susceptibility signals. Central obesity, a key BE/EAC risk factor, is linked to systemic inflammation, altered hormonal signaling and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) axis dysfunction. Here, we assessed IGF-related genetic variation and risk of BE and EAC. Principal component analysis was employed to evaluate pathway-level and gene-level associations with BE/EAC, using genotypes for 270 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in or near 12 IGF-related genes, ascertained from 3295 BE cases, 2515 EAC cases and 3207 controls in the Barrett's and Esophageal Adenocarcinoma Consortium (BEACON) GWAS. Gene-level signals were assessed using Multi-marker Analysis of GenoMic Annotation (MAGMA) and SNP summary statistics from BEACON and an expanded GWAS meta-analysis (6167 BE cases, 4112 EAC cases, 17 159 controls). Global variation in the IGF pathway was associated with risk of BE (P = 0.0015). Gene-level associations with BE were observed for GHR (growth hormone receptor; P = 0.00046, false discovery rate q = 0.0056) and IGF1R (IGF1 receptor; P = 0.0090, q = 0.0542). These gene-level signals remained significant at q < 0.1 when assessed using data from the largest available BE/EAC GWAS meta-analysis. No significant associations were observed for EAC. This study represents the most comprehensive evaluation to date of inherited genetic variation in the IGF pathway and BE/EAC risk, providing novel evidence that variation in two genes encoding cell-surface receptors, GHR and IGF1R, may influence risk of BE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/carcin/bgaa132DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8052954PMC
April 2021

The influence of regression models on genome-wide association studies of alcohol dependence: a comparison of binary and quantitative analyses.

Psychiatr Genet 2021 02;31(1):13-20

Molecular Psychiatry Laboratory, Division of Psychiatry, University College London, London.

Introduction: Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of alcohol dependence syndrome (ADS) offer a platform to detect genetic risk loci. However, the majority of the ADS GWAS undertaken, to date, have utilized a case-control design and have failed to identify consistently replicable loci with the exception of protective variants within the alcohol metabolizing genes, notably ADH1B. The ADS phenotype shows considerable variability which means that the use of quantitative variables as a proxy for the severity of ADS has the potential to facilitate identification of risk loci by increasing statistical power. The current study aims to examine the influences of using binary and adjusted quantitative measures of ADS on GWAS outcomes and on calculated polygenic risk scores (PRS).

Methods: A GWAS was performed in 1251 healthy controls with no history of excess alcohol use and 739 patients with ADS classified using binary DMS-IV criteria. Two additional GWAS were undertaken using a quantitative score based on DSM-IV criteria, which were applied assuming both normal and non-normal distributions of the phenotypic variables. PRS analyses were performed utilizing the data from the binary and the quantitative trait analyses.

Results: No associations were identified at genome-wide significance in any of the individual GWAS; results were comparable in all three. The top associated single nucleotide polymorphism was located on the alcohol dehydrogenase gene cluster on chromosome 4, consistent with previous ADS GWAS. The quantitative trait analysis adjusted for the distribution of the criterion score and the associated PRS had the smallest standard errors and thus the greatest precision.

Conclusion: Further exploitation of the use of qualitative trait analysis in GWAS in ADS is warranted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/YPG.0000000000000268DOI Listing
February 2021

A common variation in HCN1 is associated with heart rate variability in schizophrenia.

Schizophr Res 2020 Nov 18. Epub 2020 Nov 18.

Lab for Autonomic Neuroscience, Imaging and Cognition (LANIC), Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Jena University Hospital, Jena, Germany. Electronic address:

Background: There is growing evidence for a shared genetic basis between schizophrenia risk and cardiovascular disease. Reduced efferent vagal activity, indexed by reduced heart rate variability (HRV), has been consistently described in patients with schizophrenia and may potentially contribute to the increased cardiovascular risk in these patients. In this study, we tested the hypothesis whether the established schizophrenia risk variant HCN1 rs16902086 (A > G) is associated with reduced HRV.

Methods: We analyzed the risk status of HCN1 rs16902086 (AG/GG vs. AA genotype) in 83 unmedicated patients with schizophrenia and 96 healthy controls and investigated genotype-related impacts on various HRV parameters.

Results: We observed significantly increased resting heart rates and a marked decrease of vagal modulation in our patient cohort. Strikingly, HCN1 rs16902086 (A > G) was associated with reduced HRV parameters in patients only. A trend towards more pronounced HRV deviations was observed in homozygous (GG) compared to heterozygous patients (AG).

Conclusion: We present first evidence for a genetic risk factor that is associated with decreased vagal modulation in unmedicated patients with schizophrenia. Moreover, our findings suggest that HCN1 might be involved in reduced vagal modulation and possibly in increased cardiac mortality in schizophrenia patients. Thus, our data indicate that reduced vagal modulation might be an endophenotype of schizophrenia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.schres.2020.11.017DOI Listing
November 2020

Infection fatality rate of SARS-CoV2 in a super-spreading event in Germany.

Nat Commun 2020 11 17;11(1):5829. Epub 2020 Nov 17.

German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), Partner Site Bonn-Cologne, Braunschweig, Germany.

A SARS-CoV2 super-spreading event occurred during carnival in a small town in Germany. Due to the rapidly imposed lockdown and its relatively closed community, this town was seen as an ideal model to investigate the infection fatality rate (IFR). Here, a 7-day seroepidemiological observational study was performed to collect information and biomaterials from a random, household-based study population. The number of infections was determined by IgG analyses and PCR testing. We found that of the 919 individuals with evaluable infection status, 15.5% (95% CI:[12.3%; 19.0%]) were infected. This is a fivefold higher rate than the reported cases for this community (3.1%). 22.2% of all infected individuals were asymptomatic. The estimated IFR was 0.36% (95% CI:[0.29%; 0.45%]) for the community and 0.35% [0.28%; 0.45%] when age-standardized to the population of the community. Participation in carnival increased both infection rate (21.3% versus 9.5%, p < 0.001) and number of symptoms (estimated relative mean increase 1.6, p = 0.007). While the infection rate here is not representative for Germany, the IFR is useful to estimate the consequences of the pandemic in places with similar healthcare systems and population characteristics. Whether the super-spreading event not only increases the infection rate but also affects the IFR requires further investigation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19509-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7672059PMC
November 2020

Impact of genetic polymorphisms in kinetochore and spindle assembly genes on chromosomal aberration frequency in healthy humans.

Mutat Res 2020 Oct - Dec;858-860:503253. Epub 2020 Sep 15.

Department of Molecular Genetic Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Im Neuenheimer Feld 580, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany; Hopp Children's Cancer Center (KiTZ), Heidelberg, Germany; Division of Pediatric Neurooncology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), German Cancer Consortium (DKTK), Heidelberg, Germany.

Genomic instability is a characteristic of a majority of human malignancies. Chromosomal instability is a common form of genomic instability that can be caused by defects in mitotic checkpoint genes. Chromosomal aberrations in peripheral blood are also indicative of genotoxic exposure and potential cancer risk. We evaluated associations between inherited genetic variants in 33 mitotic checkpoint genes and the frequency of chromosomal aberrations (CAs) in the presence and absence of environmental genotoxic exposure. Associations with both chromosome and chromatid type of aberrations were evaluated in two cohorts of healthy individuals, namely an exposed and a reference group consisting of 607 and 866 individuals, respectively. Binary logistic and linear regression analyses were performed for the association studies. Bonferroni-corrected significant p-value was 5 × 10 for 99 tests based on the number of analyzed genes and phenotypes. In the reference group the most prominent associations were found with variants in CCNB1, a master regulator of mitosis, and in genes involved in kinetochore function, including CENPH and TEX14, whereas in the exposed group the main association was found with variants in TTK, also an important gene in kinetochore function. How the identified variants may affect the fidelity of mitotic checkpoint remains to be investigated, however, the present study suggests that genetic variation may partly explain interindividual variation in the formation of CAs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mrgentox.2020.503253DOI Listing
March 2021

A Novel Locus and Candidate Gene for Familial Developmental Dyslexia on Chromosome 4q.

Z Kinder Jugendpsychiatr Psychother 2020 Nov;48(6):478-489

Interfaculty Institute for Genetics and Functional Genomics, University Medicine Greifswald, Germany.

Developmental dyslexia is a highly heritable specific reading and writing disability. To identify a possible new locus and candidate gene for this disability, we investigated a four-generation pedigree where transmission of dyslexia is consistent with an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern. We performed genome wide array-based SNP genotyping and parametric linkage analysis and sequencing analysis of protein-coding exons, exon-intron boundaries and conserved extragenic regions within the haplotype cosegregating with dyslexia in DNA from one affected and one unaffected family member. Cosegregation was confirmed by sequencing all available family members. Additionally, we analyzed 96 dyslexic individuals who had previously shown positive LOD scores on chromosome 4q28 as well as an even larger sample ( = 2591). We found a single prominent linkage interval on chromosome 4q, where sequence analysis revealed a nucleotide variant in the 3' UTR of brain expressed in the dyslexic family member that cosegregated with dyslexia. This sequence alteration might affect the binding efficiency of the IGF2BP1 RNA-binding protein and thus influence the expression level of the gene product. An analysis of 96 individuals from a cohort of dyslexic individuals revealed a second heterozygous variant in this gene, which was absent in the unaffected sister of the proband. An investigation of the region in a much larger sample further found a nominal -value of 0.0016 for verbal short-term memory (digit span) in 2,591 individuals for a neighboring SNV. After correcting for the local number of analyzed SNVs, and after taking into account linkage disequilibrium, we found this corresponds to a -value of 0.0678 for this phenotype. We describe a new locus for familial dyslexia and discuss the possibility that might play a role in the etiology of a monogenic form of dyslexia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1024/1422-4917/a000758DOI Listing
November 2020

Mapping of cis-acting expression quantitative trait loci in human scalp hair follicles.

BMC Dermatol 2020 11 10;20(1):16. Epub 2020 Nov 10.

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Bonn, School of Medicine & University Hospital Bonn, 53127, Bonn, Germany.

Background: The association of molecular phenotypes, such as gene transcript levels, with human common genetic variation can help to improve our understanding of interindividual variability of tissue-specific gene regulation and its implications for disease.

Methods: With the aim to capture the spectrum of biological processes affected by regulatory common genetic variants (minor allele frequency ≥ 1%) in healthy hair follicles (HFs) from scalp tissue, we performed a genome-wide mapping of cis-acting expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) in plucked HFs, and applied these eQTLs to help further explain genomic findings for hair-related traits.

Results: We report 374 high-confidence eQTLs found in occipital scalp tissue, whose associated genes (eGenes) showed enrichments for metabolic, mitotic and immune processes, as well as responses to steroid hormones. We were able to replicate 68 of these associations in a smaller, independent dataset, in either frontal and/or occipital scalp tissue. Furthermore, we found three genomic regions overlapping reported genetic loci for hair shape and hair color. We found evidence to confirm the contributions of PADI3 to human variation in hair traits and suggest a novel potential candidate gene within known loci for androgenetic alopecia.

Conclusions: Our study shows that an array of basic cellular functions relevant for hair growth are genetically regulated within the HF, and can be applied to aid the interpretation of interindividual variability on hair traits, as well as genetic findings for common hair disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12895-020-00113-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7653834PMC
November 2020

Generative network models of altered structural brain connectivity in schizophrenia.

Neuroimage 2021 01 5;225:117510. Epub 2020 Nov 5.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, J5 68159 Mannheim, Germany.

Alterations in the structural connectome of schizophrenia patients have been widely characterized, but the mechanisms remain largely unknown. Generative network models have recently been introduced as a tool to test the biological underpinnings of altered brain network formation. We evaluated different generative network models in healthy controls (n=152), schizophrenia patients (n=66), and their unaffected first-degree relatives (n=32), and we identified spatial and topological factors contributing to network formation. We further investigated how these factors relate to cognition and to polygenic risk for schizophrenia. Our data show that among the four tested classes of generative network models, structural brain networks were optimally accounted for by a two-factor model combining spatial constraints and topological neighborhood structure. The same wiring model explained brain network formation across study groups. However, relatives and schizophrenia patients exhibited significantly lower spatial constraints and lower topological facilitation compared to healthy controls. Further exploratory analyses point to potential associations of the model parameter reflecting spatial constraints with the polygenic risk for schizophrenia and cognitive performance. Our results identify spatial constraints and local topological structure as two interrelated mechanisms contributing to regular brain network formation as well as altered connectomes in schizophrenia and healthy individuals at familial risk for schizophrenia. On an exploratory level, our data further point to the potential relevance of spatial constraints for the genetic risk for schizophrenia and general cognitive functioning, thereby encouraging future studies in following up on these observations to gain further insights into the biological basis and behavioral relevance of model parameters.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.117510DOI Listing
January 2021

Shared Genetics of Multiple System Atrophy and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Mov Disord 2021 02 27;36(2):449-459. Epub 2020 Oct 27.

Rita Lila Weston Institute, University College London, London, UK.

Background: Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a rare neurodegenerative disease characterized by intracellular accumulations of α-synuclein and nerve cell loss in striatonigral and olivopontocerebellar structures. Epidemiological and clinical studies have reported potential involvement of autoimmune mechanisms in MSA pathogenesis. However, genetic etiology of this interaction remains unknown. We aimed to investigate genetic overlap between MSA and 7 autoimmune diseases and to identify shared genetic loci.

Methods: Genome-wide association study summary statistics of MSA and 7 autoimmune diseases were combined in cross-trait conjunctional false discovery rate analysis to explore overlapping genetic background. Expression of selected candidate genes was compared in transgenic MSA mice and wild-type mice. Genetic variability of candidate genes was further investigated using independent whole-exome genotyping data from large cohorts of MSA and autoimmune disease patients and healthy controls.

Results: We observed substantial polygenic overlap between MSA and inflammatory bowel disease and identified 3 shared genetic loci with leading variants upstream of the DENND1B and RSP04 genes, and in intron of the C7 gene. Further, the C7 gene showed significantly dysregulated expression in the degenerating midbrain of transgenic MSA mice compared with wild-type mice and had elevated burden of protein-coding variants in independent MSA and inflammatory bowel disease cohorts.

Conclusion: Our study provides evidence of shared genetic etiology between MSA and inflammatory bowel disease with an important role of the C7 gene in both phenotypes, with the implication of immune and gut dysfunction in MSA pathophysiology. © 2020 The Authors. Movement Disorders published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mds.28338DOI Listing
February 2021

Dihydropyrimidine Dehydrogenase Testing prior to Treatment with 5-Fluorouracil, Capecitabine, and Tegafur: A Consensus Paper.

Oncol Res Treat 2020 23;43(11):628-636. Epub 2020 Oct 23.

Klinik für Innere Medizin I, Universitätsklinikum Ulm, Ulm, Germany.

Background: 5-Fluorouracil (FU) is one of the most commonly used cytostatic drugs in the systemic treatment of cancer. Treatment with FU may cause severe or life-threatening side effects and the treatment-related mortality rate is 0.2-1.0%.

Summary: Among other risk factors associated with increased toxicity, a genetic deficiency in dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD), an enzyme responsible for the metabolism of FU, is well known. This is due to variants in the DPD gene (DPYD). Up to 9% of European patients carry a DPD gene variant that decreases enzyme activity, and DPD is completely lacking in approximately 0.5% of patients. Here we describe the clinical and genetic background and summarize recommendations for the genetic testing and tailoring of treatment with 5-FU derivatives. The statement was developed as a consensus statement organized by the German Society for Hematology and Medical Oncology in cooperation with 13 medical associations from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Key Messages: (i) Patients should be tested for the 4 most common genetic DPYD variants before treatment with drugs containing FU. (ii) Testing forms the basis for a differentiated, risk-adapted algorithm with recommendations for treatment with FU-containing drugs. (iii) Testing may optionally be supplemented by therapeutic drug monitoring.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000510258DOI Listing
March 2021

Genome-wide association study reveals new insights into the heritability and genetic correlates of developmental dyslexia.

Mol Psychiatry 2020 Oct 14. Epub 2020 Oct 14.

Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience and Maastricht Brain Imaging Center (M-BIC), Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Developmental dyslexia (DD) is a learning disorder affecting the ability to read, with a heritability of 40-60%. A notable part of this heritability remains unexplained, and large genetic studies are warranted to identify new susceptibility genes and clarify the genetic bases of dyslexia. We carried out a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on 2274 dyslexia cases and 6272 controls, testing associations at the single variant, gene, and pathway level, and estimating heritability using single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data. We also calculated polygenic scores (PGSs) based on large-scale GWAS data for different neuropsychiatric disorders and cortical brain measures, educational attainment, and fluid intelligence, testing them for association with dyslexia status in our sample. We observed statistically significant (p  < 2.8 × 10) enrichment of associations at the gene level, for LOC388780 (20p13; uncharacterized gene), and for VEPH1 (3q25), a gene implicated in brain development. We estimated an SNP-based heritability of 20-25% for DD, and observed significant associations of dyslexia risk with PGSs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (at p = 0.05 in the training GWAS: OR = 1.23[1.16; 1.30] per standard deviation increase; p  = 8 × 10), bipolar disorder (1.53[1.44; 1.63]; p = 1 × 10), schizophrenia (1.36[1.28; 1.45]; p = 4 × 10), psychiatric cross-disorder susceptibility (1.23[1.16; 1.30]; p = 3 × 10), cortical thickness of the transverse temporal gyrus (0.90[0.86; 0.96]; p = 5 × 10), educational attainment (0.86[0.82; 0.91]; p = 2 × 10), and intelligence (0.72[0.68; 0.76]; p = 9 × 10). This study suggests an important contribution of common genetic variants to dyslexia risk, and novel genomic overlaps with psychiatric conditions like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and cross-disorder susceptibility. Moreover, it revealed the presence of shared genetic foundations with a neural correlate previously implicated in dyslexia by neuroimaging evidence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-020-00898-xDOI Listing
October 2020

Hormonal regulation in male androgenetic alopecia-Sex hormones and beyond: Evidence from recent genetic studies.

Exp Dermatol 2020 09 3;29(9):814-827. Epub 2020 Jul 3.

Institute of Human Genetics, School of Medicine & University Hospital Bonn, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.

Male-pattern hair loss, also termed androgenetic alopecia (AGA), is a highly prevalent age-related condition that is characterized by a distinct pattern of hair loss from the frontotemporal and vertex regions of the scalp. The phenotype is highly heritable and hormone dependent, with androgens being the recognized critical hormonal factor. Numerous molecular genetic studies have focused on genetic variation in and around the gene that encodes the androgen receptor. More recently, however, the availability of high-throughput molecular genetic methods, novel methods of data analysis and sufficiently large sample sizes have rendered possible the systematic investigation of the contribution of other components of the androgen receptor pathway or hormonal pathways beyond the androgen receptor signalling pathways. Over the past decade, genome-wide association studies of increasingly large cohorts have enabled the genome-wide identification of genetic risk factors for AGA, and yielded unprecedented insights into the underlying pathobiology. The present review discusses some of the most intriguing genetic findings on the relevance of (sex)hormonal signalling in AGA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/exd.14130DOI Listing
September 2020

Risk prediction for coronary heart disease by a genetic risk score - results from the Heinz Nixdorf Recall study.

BMC Med Genet 2020 09 10;21(1):178. Epub 2020 Sep 10.

Institute for Medical Informatics, Biometry and Epidemiology, University Hospital of Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.

Background: A Genetic risk score for coronary artery disease (CAD) improves the ability of predicting coronary heart disease (CHD). It is unclear whether i) the use of a CAD genetic risk score is superior to the measurement of coronary artery calcification (CAC) for CHD risk assessment and ii) the CHD risk assessment using a CAD genetic risk score differs between men and women.

Methods: We included 4041 participants (age-range: 45-76 years, 1919 men) of the Heinz Nixdorf Recall study without CHD or stroke at baseline. A standardized weighted CAD genetic risk score was constructed using 70 known genetic variants. The risk score was divided into quintiles (Q1-Q5). We specified low (Q1), intermediate (Q2-Q4) and high (Q5) genetic risk groups. Incident CHD was defined as fatal and non-fatal myocardial infarction, stroke and coronary death. The association between the genetic risk score and genetic risk groups with incident CHD was assessed using Cox models to estimate hazard ratios (HR) and 95%-confidence intervals (CI). The models were adjusted by age and sex (Model1), as well as by established CHD risk factors (RF) and CAC (Model2). The analyses were further stratified by sex and controlled for multiple testing.

Results: During a median follow-up time of 11.6 ± 3.7 years, 343 participants experienced CHD events (219 men). Per-standard deviation (SD) increase in the genetic risk score was associated with 18% increased risk for incident CHD (Model1: p = 0.002) which did not change after full adjustment (Model2: HR = 1.18 per-SD (p = 0.003)). In Model2 we observed a 60% increased CHD risk in the high (p = 0.009) compared to the low genetic risk group. Stratifying by sex, only men showed statistically significantly higher risk for CHD (Model2: HR = 1.23 per-SD (p = 0.004); intermediate: HR = 1.52 (p = 0.04) and high: HR = 1.88 (p = 0.008)) with no statistically significant risk observed in women.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that the CAD genetic risk score could be useful for CHD risk prediction, at least in men belonging to the higher genetic risk group, but it does not outbalance the value of CT-based quantification of CAC which works independently on both men and women and allows better risk stratification in both the genders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12881-020-01113-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7487988PMC
September 2020

Childhood maltreatment and cognitive functioning: the role of depression, parental education, and polygenic predisposition.

Neuropsychopharmacology 2021 04 14;46(5):891-899. Epub 2020 Aug 14.

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

Childhood maltreatment is associated with cognitive deficits that in turn have been predictive for therapeutic outcome in psychiatric patients. However, previous studies have either investigated maltreatment associations with single cognitive domains or failed to adequately control for confounders such as depression, socioeconomic environment, and genetic predisposition. We aimed to isolate the relationship between childhood maltreatment and dysfunction in diverse cognitive domains, while estimating the contribution of potential confounders to this relationship, and to investigate gene-environment interactions. We included 547 depressive disorder and 670 healthy control participants (mean age: 34.7 years, SD = 13.2). Cognitive functioning was assessed for the domains of working memory, executive functioning, processing speed, attention, memory, and verbal intelligence using neuropsychological tests. Childhood maltreatment and parental education were assessed using self-reports, and psychiatric diagnosis was based on DSM-IV criteria. Polygenic scores for depression and for educational attainment were calculated. Multivariate analysis of cognitive domains yielded significant associations with childhood maltreatment (η² = 0.083, P < 0.001), depression (η² = 0.097, P < 0.001), parental education (η² = 0.085, P < 0.001), and polygenic scores for depression (η² = 0.021, P = 0.005) and educational attainment (η² = 0.031, P < 0.001). Each of these associations remained significant when including all of the predictors in one model. Univariate tests revealed that maltreatment was associated with poorer performance in all cognitive domains. Thus, environmental, psychopathological, and genetic risk factors each independently affect cognition. The insights of the current study may aid in estimating the potential impact of different loci of interventions for cognitive dysfunction. Future research should investigate if customized interventions, informed by individual risk profiles and related cognitive preconditions, might enhance response to therapeutic treatments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41386-020-00794-6DOI Listing
April 2021

Polygenic risk for schizophrenia and schizotypal traits in non-clinical subjects.

Psychol Med 2020 Aug 6:1-11. Epub 2020 Aug 6.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Philipps-University and University Hospital Marburg, UKGM, Rudolf-Bultmann-Str. 8, 35039Marburg, Germany.

Background: Schizotypy is a putative risk phenotype for psychosis liability, but the overlap of its genetic architecture with schizophrenia is poorly understood.

Methods: We tested the hypothesis that dimensions of schizotypy (assessed with the SPQ-B) are associated with a polygenic risk score (PRS) for schizophrenia in a sample of 623 psychiatrically healthy, non-clinical subjects from the FOR2107 multi-centre study and a second sample of 1133 blood donors.

Results: We did not find correlations of schizophrenia PRS with either overall SPQ or specific dimension scores, nor with adjusted schizotypy scores derived from the SPQ (addressing inter-scale variance). Also, PRS for affective disorders (bipolar disorder and major depression) were not significantly associated with schizotypy.

Conclusions: This important negative finding demonstrates that despite the hypothesised continuum of schizotypy and schizophrenia, schizotypy might share less genetic risk with schizophrenia than previously assumed (and possibly less compared to psychotic-like experiences).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291720002822DOI Listing
August 2020

Insights Into the Biology of Persistent Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia via Genomic Approaches-An Avenue to Clinical Translation?

JAMA Dermatol 2020 09;156(9):947-948

Institute of Human Genetics, University Hospital Bonn, Medical Faculty, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamadermatol.2020.1866DOI Listing
September 2020

Quantitative genome-wide association study of six phenotypic subdomains identifies novel genome-wide significant variants in autism spectrum disorder.

Transl Psychiatry 2020 07 5;10(1):215. Epub 2020 Jul 5.

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Frankfurt, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are highly heritable and are characterized by deficits in social communication and restricted and repetitive behaviors. Twin studies on phenotypic subdomains suggest a differing underlying genetic etiology. Studying genetic variation explaining phenotypic variance will help to identify specific underlying pathomechanisms. We investigated the effect of common variation on ASD subdomains in two cohorts including >2500 individuals. Based on the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R), we identified and confirmed six subdomains with a SNP-based genetic heritability h = 0.2-0.4. The subdomains nonverbal communication (NVC), social interaction (SI), and peer interaction (PI) shared genetic risk factors, while the subdomains of repetitive sensory-motor behavior (RB) and restricted interests (RI) were genetically independent of each other. The polygenic risk score (PRS) for ASD as categorical diagnosis explained 2.3-3.3% of the variance of SI, joint attention (JA), and PI, 4.5% for RI, 1.2% of RB, but only 0.7% of NVC. We report eight genome-wide significant hits-partially replicating previous findings-and 292 known and novel candidate genes. The underlying biological mechanisms were related to neuronal transmission and development. At the SNP and gene level, all subdomains showed overlap, with the exception of RB. However, no overlap was observed at the functional level. In summary, the ADI-R algorithm-derived subdomains related to social communication show a shared genetic etiology in contrast to restricted and repetitive behaviors. The ASD-specific PRS overlapped only partially, suggesting an additional role of specific common variation in shaping the phenotypic expression of ASD subdomains.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-00906-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7335742PMC
July 2020

Advanced paternal age as a risk factor for neurodevelopmental disorders: a translational study.

Mol Autism 2020 06 23;11(1):54. Epub 2020 Jun 23.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Philipps-University Marburg, 35039, Marburg, Germany.

Advanced paternal age (APA) is a risk factor for several neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism and schizophrenia. The potential mechanisms conferring this risk are poorly understood. Here, we show that the personality traits schizotypy and neuroticism correlated with paternal age in healthy subjects (N = 677). Paternal age was further positively associated with gray matter volume (VBM, N = 342) in the right prefrontal and the right medial temporal cortex. The integrity of fiber tracts (DTI, N = 222) connecting these two areas correlated positively with paternal age. Genome-wide methylation analysis in humans showed differential methylation in APA individuals, linking APA to epigenetic mechanisms. A corresponding phenotype was obtained in our rat model. APA rats displayed social-communication deficits and emitted fewer pro-social ultrasonic vocalizations compared to controls. They further showed repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, together with higher anxiety during early development. At the neurobiological level, microRNAs miR-132 and miR-134 were both differentially regulated in rats and humans depending on APA. This study demonstrates associations between APA and social behaviors across species. They might be driven by changes in the expression of microRNAs and/or epigenetic changes regulating neuronal plasticity, leading to brain morphological changes and fronto-hippocampal connectivity, a network which has been implicated in social interaction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13229-020-00345-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7310295PMC
June 2020