Publications by authors named "Sarah E Medland"

265 Publications

Large-scale collaboration in ENIGMA-EEG: A perspective on the meta-analytic approach to link neurological and psychiatric liability genes to electrophysiological brain activity.

Brain Behav 2021 Jul 21:e02188. Epub 2021 Jul 21.

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

Background And Purpose: The ENIGMA-EEG working group was established to enable large-scale international collaborations among cohorts that investigate the genetics of brain function measured with electroencephalography (EEG). In this perspective, we will discuss why analyzing the genetics of functional brain activity may be crucial for understanding how neurological and psychiatric liability genes affect the brain.

Methods: We summarize how we have performed our currently largest genome-wide association study of oscillatory brain activity in EEG recordings by meta-analyzing the results across five participating cohorts, resulting in the first genome-wide significant hits for oscillatory brain function located in/near genes that were previously associated with psychiatric disorders. We describe how we have tackled methodological issues surrounding genetic meta-analysis of EEG features. We discuss the importance of harmonizing EEG signal processing, cleaning, and feature extraction. Finally, we explain our selection of EEG features currently being investigated, including the temporal dynamics of oscillations and the connectivity network based on synchronization of oscillations.

Results: We present data that show how to perform systematic quality control and evaluate how choices in reference electrode and montage affect individual differences in EEG parameters.

Conclusion: The long list of potential challenges to our large-scale meta-analytic approach requires extensive effort and organization between participating cohorts; however, our perspective shows that these challenges are surmountable. Our perspective argues that elucidating the genetic of EEG oscillatory activity is a worthwhile effort in order to elucidate the pathway from gene to disease liability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/brb3.2188DOI Listing
July 2021

Genetic risk for chronic pain is associated with lower antidepressant effectiveness: Converging evidence for a depression subtype.

Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2021 Jul 16:48674211031491. Epub 2021 Jul 16.

Department of Genetics & Computational Biology, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Herston, QLD, Australia.

Introduction: Chronic pain and depression are highly comorbid and difficult-to-treat disorders. We previously showed this comorbidity is associated with higher depression severity, lower antidepressant treatment effectiveness and poorer prognosis in the Australian Genetics of Depression Study.

Objective: The current study aimed to assess whether a genetic liability to chronic pain is associated with antidepressant effectiveness over and above the effect of genetic factors for depression in a sample of 12,863 Australian Genetics of Depression Study participants.

Methods: Polygenic risk scores were calculated using summary statistics from genome-wide association studies of multisite chronic pain and major depression. Cumulative linked regressions were employed to assess the association between polygenic risk scores and antidepressant treatment effectiveness across 10 different medications.

Results: Mixed-effects logistic regressions showed that individual genetic propensity for chronic pain, but not major depression, was significantly associated with patient-reported chronic pain (Pain OR = 1.17 [1.12, 1.22]; MD OR = 1.01 [0.98, 1.06]). Significant associations were also found between lower antidepressant effectiveness and genetic risk for chronic pain or for major depression. However, a fully adjusted model showed the effect of Pain (adjOR = 0.93 [0.90, 0.96]) was independent of MD (adjOR = 0.96 [0.93, 0.99]). Sensitivity analyses were performed to assess the robustness of these results. After adjusting for depression severity measures (i.e. age of onset; number of depressive episodes; interval between age at study participation and at depression onset), the associations between Pain and patient-reported chronic pain with lower antidepressant effectiveness remained significant (0.95 [0.92, 0.98] and 0.84 [0.78, 0.90], respectively).

Conclusion: These results suggest genetic risk for chronic pain accounted for poorer antidepressant effectiveness, independent of the genetic risk for major depression. Our results, along with independent converging evidence from other studies, point towards a difficult-to-treat depression subtype characterised by comorbid chronic pain. This finding warrants further investigation into the implications for biologically based nosology frameworks in pain medicine and psychiatry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/00048674211031491DOI Listing
July 2021

Genetic risk for chronic pain is associated with lower antidepressant effectiveness: Converging evidence for a depression subtype.

Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2021 Jul 16:48674211031491. Epub 2021 Jul 16.

Department of Genetics & Computational Biology, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Herston, QLD, Australia.

Introduction: Chronic pain and depression are highly comorbid and difficult-to-treat disorders. We previously showed this comorbidity is associated with higher depression severity, lower antidepressant treatment effectiveness and poorer prognosis in the Australian Genetics of Depression Study.

Objective: The current study aimed to assess whether a genetic liability to chronic pain is associated with antidepressant effectiveness over and above the effect of genetic factors for depression in a sample of 12,863 Australian Genetics of Depression Study participants.

Methods: Polygenic risk scores were calculated using summary statistics from genome-wide association studies of multisite chronic pain and major depression. Cumulative linked regressions were employed to assess the association between polygenic risk scores and antidepressant treatment effectiveness across 10 different medications.

Results: Mixed-effects logistic regressions showed that individual genetic propensity for chronic pain, but not major depression, was significantly associated with patient-reported chronic pain (Pain OR = 1.17 [1.12, 1.22]; MD OR = 1.01 [0.98, 1.06]). Significant associations were also found between lower antidepressant effectiveness and genetic risk for chronic pain or for major depression. However, a fully adjusted model showed the effect of Pain (adjOR = 0.93 [0.90, 0.96]) was independent of MD (adjOR = 0.96 [0.93, 0.99]). Sensitivity analyses were performed to assess the robustness of these results. After adjusting for depression severity measures (i.e. age of onset; number of depressive episodes; interval between age at study participation and at depression onset), the associations between Pain and patient-reported chronic pain with lower antidepressant effectiveness remained significant (0.95 [0.92, 0.98] and 0.84 [0.78, 0.90], respectively).

Conclusion: These results suggest genetic risk for chronic pain accounted for poorer antidepressant effectiveness, independent of the genetic risk for major depression. Our results, along with independent converging evidence from other studies, point towards a difficult-to-treat depression subtype characterised by comorbid chronic pain. This finding warrants further investigation into the implications for biologically based nosology frameworks in pain medicine and psychiatry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/00048674211031491DOI Listing
July 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

Days out of role and somatic, anxious-depressive, hypo-manic, and psychotic-like symptom dimensions in a community sample of young adults.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 05 13;11(1):285. Epub 2021 May 13.

Youth Mental Health & Technology Team, Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.

Improving our understanding of the causes of functional impairment in young people is a major global challenge. Here, we investigated the relationships between self-reported days out of role and the total quantity and different patterns of self-reported somatic, anxious-depressive, psychotic-like, and hypomanic symptoms in a community-based cohort of young adults. We examined self-ratings of 23 symptoms ranging across the four dimensions and days out of role in >1900 young adult twins and non-twin siblings participating in the "19Up" wave of the Brisbane Longitudinal Twin Study. Adjusted prevalence ratios (APR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) quantified associations between impairment and different symptom patterns. Three individual symptoms showed significant associations with days out of role, with the largest association for impaired concentration. When impairment was assessed according to each symptom dimension, there was a clear stepwise relationship between the total number of somatic symptoms and the likelihood of impairment, while individuals reporting ≥4 anxious-depressive symptoms or five hypomanic symptoms had greater likelihood of reporting days out of role. Furthermore, there was a stepwise relationship between the total number of undifferentiated symptoms and the likelihood of reporting days out of role. There was some suggestion of differences in the magnitude and significance of associations when the cohort was stratified according to sex, but not for age or twin status. Our findings reinforce the development of early intervention mental health frameworks and, if confirmed, support the need to consider interventions for subthreshold and/or undifferentiated syndromes for reducing disability among young people.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01390-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8119948PMC
May 2021

Comorbid Chronic Pain and Depression: Shared Risk Factors and Differential Antidepressant Effectiveness.

Front Psychiatry 2021 12;12:643609. Epub 2021 Apr 12.

Department of Genetics and Computational Biology, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

The bidirectional relationship between depression and chronic pain is well-recognized, but their clinical management remains challenging. Here we characterize the shared risk factors and outcomes for their comorbidity in the Australian Genetics of Depression cohort study ( = 13,839). Participants completed online questionnaires about chronic pain, psychiatric symptoms, comorbidities, treatment response and general health. Logistic regression models were used to examine the relationship between chronic pain and clinical and demographic factors. Cumulative linked logistic regressions assessed the effect of chronic pain on treatment response for 10 different antidepressants. Chronic pain was associated with an increased risk of depression (OR = 1.86 [1.37-2.54]), recent suicide attempt (OR = 1.88 [1.14-3.09]), higher use of tobacco (OR = 1.05 [1.02-1.09]) and misuse of painkillers (e.g., opioids; OR = 1.31 [1.06-1.62]). Participants with comorbid chronic pain and depression reported fewer functional benefits from antidepressant use and lower benefits from sertraline (OR = 0.75 [0.68-0.83]), escitalopram (OR = 0.75 [0.67-0.85]) and venlafaxine (OR = 0.78 [0.68-0.88]) when compared to participants without chronic pain. Furthermore, participants taking sertraline (OR = 0.45 [0.30-0.67]), escitalopram (OR = 0.45 [0.27-0.74]) and citalopram (OR = 0.32 [0.15-0.67]) specifically for chronic pain (among other indications) reported lower benefits compared to other participants taking these same medications but not for chronic pain. These findings reveal novel insights into the complex relationship between chronic pain and depression. Treatment response analyses indicate differential effectiveness between particular antidepressants and poorer functional outcomes for these comorbid conditions. Further examination is warranted in targeted interventional clinical trials, which also include neuroimaging genetics and pharmacogenomics protocols. This work will advance the delineation of disease risk indicators and novel aetiological pathways for therapeutic intervention in comorbid pain and depression as well as other psychiatric comorbidities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.643609DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8072020PMC
April 2021

Introduction to the Special Issue on Statistical Genetic Methods for Human Complex Traits.

Behav Genet 2021 05;51(3):165-169

The Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10519-021-10057-9DOI Listing
May 2021

Symptom-level modelling unravels the shared genetic architecture of anxiety and depression.

Nat Hum Behav 2021 Apr 15. Epub 2021 Apr 15.

Translational Neurogenomics, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Depression and anxiety are highly prevalent and comorbid psychiatric traits that cause considerable burden worldwide. Here we use factor analysis and genomic structural equation modelling to investigate the genetic factor structure underlying 28 items assessing depression, anxiety and neuroticism, a closely related personality trait. Symptoms of depression and anxiety loaded on two distinct, although highly genetically correlated factors, and neuroticism items were partitioned between them. We used this factor structure to conduct genome-wide association analyses on latent factors of depressive symptoms (89 independent variants, 61 genomic loci) and anxiety symptoms (102 variants, 73 loci) in the UK Biobank. Of these associated variants, 72% and 78%, respectively, replicated in an independent cohort of approximately 1.9 million individuals with self-reported diagnosis of depression and anxiety. We use these results to characterize shared and trait-specific genetic associations. Our findings provide insight into the genetic architecture of depression and anxiety and comorbidity between them.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41562-021-01094-9DOI Listing
April 2021

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

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

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

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

Analysis of structural brain asymmetries in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in 39 datasets.

J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2021 Mar 22. Epub 2021 Mar 22.

Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA.

Objective: Some studies have suggested alterations of structural brain asymmetry in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but findings have been contradictory and based on small samples. Here, we performed the largest ever analysis of brain left-right asymmetry in ADHD, using 39 datasets of the ENIGMA consortium.

Methods: We analyzed asymmetry of subcortical and cerebral cortical structures in up to 1,933 people with ADHD and 1,829 unaffected controls. Asymmetry Indexes (AIs) were calculated per participant for each bilaterally paired measure, and linear mixed effects modeling was applied separately in children, adolescents, adults, and the total sample, to test exhaustively for potential associations of ADHD with structural brain asymmetries.

Results: There was no evidence for altered caudate nucleus asymmetry in ADHD, in contrast to prior literature. In children, there was less rightward asymmetry of the total hemispheric surface area compared to controls (t = 2.1, p = .04). Lower rightward asymmetry of medial orbitofrontal cortex surface area in ADHD (t = 2.7, p = .01) was similar to a recent finding for autism spectrum disorder. There were also some differences in cortical thickness asymmetry across age groups. In adults with ADHD, globus pallidus asymmetry was altered compared to those without ADHD. However, all effects were small (Cohen's d from -0.18 to 0.18) and would not survive study-wide correction for multiple testing.

Conclusion: Prior studies of altered structural brain asymmetry in ADHD were likely underpowered to detect the small effects reported here. Altered structural asymmetry is unlikely to provide a useful biomarker for ADHD, but may provide neurobiological insights into the trait.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13396DOI Listing
March 2021

Genome-wide association study in almost 195,000 individuals identifies 50 previously unidentified genetic loci for eye color.

Sci Adv 2021 Mar 10;7(11). Epub 2021 Mar 10.

Key Laboratory of Genomic and Precision Medicine, Beijing Institute of Genomics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.

Human eye color is highly heritable, but its genetic architecture is not yet fully understood. We report the results of the largest genome-wide association study for eye color to date, involving up to 192,986 European participants from 10 populations. We identify 124 independent associations arising from 61 discrete genomic regions, including 50 previously unidentified. We find evidence for genes involved in melanin pigmentation, but we also find associations with genes involved in iris morphology and structure. Further analyses in 1636 Asian participants from two populations suggest that iris pigmentation variation in Asians is genetically similar to Europeans, albeit with smaller effect sizes. Our findings collectively explain 53.2% (95% confidence interval, 45.4 to 61.0%) of eye color variation using common single-nucleotide polymorphisms. Overall, our study outcomes demonstrate that the genetic complexity of human eye color considerably exceeds previous knowledge and expectations, highlighting eye color as a genetically highly complex human trait.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abd1239DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7946369PMC
March 2021

Effects of copy number variations on brain structure and risk for psychiatric illness: Large-scale studies from the ENIGMA working groups on CNVs.

Hum Brain Mapp 2021 Feb 21. Epub 2021 Feb 21.

Center for Neuroimaging, Genetics and Genomics, School of Psychology, NUI Galway, Galway, Ireland.

The Enhancing NeuroImaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis copy number variant (ENIGMA-CNV) and 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome Working Groups (22q-ENIGMA WGs) were created to gain insight into the involvement of genetic factors in human brain development and related cognitive, psychiatric and behavioral manifestations. To that end, the ENIGMA-CNV WG has collated CNV and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data from ~49,000 individuals across 38 global research sites, yielding one of the largest studies to date on the effects of CNVs on brain structures in the general population. The 22q-ENIGMA WG includes 12 international research centers that assessed over 533 individuals with a confirmed 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, 40 with 22q11.2 duplications, and 333 typically developing controls, creating the largest-ever 22q11.2 CNV neuroimaging data set. In this review, we outline the ENIGMA infrastructure and procedures for multi-site analysis of CNVs and MRI data. So far, ENIGMA has identified effects of the 22q11.2, 16p11.2 distal, 15q11.2, and 1q21.1 distal CNVs on subcortical and cortical brain structures. Each CNV is associated with differences in cognitive, neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric traits, with characteristic patterns of brain structural abnormalities. Evidence of gene-dosage effects on distinct brain regions also emerged, providing further insight into genotype-phenotype relationships. Taken together, these results offer a more comprehensive picture of molecular mechanisms involved in typical and atypical brain development. This "genotype-first" approach also contributes to our understanding of the etiopathogenesis of brain disorders. Finally, we outline future directions to better understand effects of CNVs on brain structure and behavior.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25354DOI Listing
February 2021

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

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

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

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

The Augmented Classical Twin Design: Incorporating Genome-Wide Identity by Descent Sharing Into Twin Studies in Order to Model Violations of the Equal Environments Assumption.

Behav Genet 2021 05 13;51(3):223-236. Epub 2021 Feb 13.

The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, The University of Queensland, Level 7, 37 Kent St, Brisbane, Australia.

The Classical Twin Method (CTM) compares the similarity of monozygotic (MZ) twins with that of dizygotic (DZ) twins to make inferences about the relative importance of genes and environment in the etiology of individual differences. The design has been applied to thousands of traits across the biomedical, behavioral and social sciences and is arguably the most widely used natural experiment known to science. The fundamental assumption of the CTM is that trait relevant environmental covariation within MZ pairs is the same as that found within DZ pairs, so that zygosity differences in within-pair variance must be due to genetic factors uncontaminated by the environment. This equal environments assumption (EEA) has been, and still is hotly contested, and has been mentioned as a possible contributing factor to the missing heritability conundrum. In this manuscript, we introduce a new model for testing the EEA, which we call the Augmented Classical Twin Design which uses identity by descent (IBD) sharing between DZ twin pairs to estimate separate environmental variance components for MZ and DZ twin pairs, and provides a test of whether these are equal. We show through simulation that given large samples of DZ twin pairs, the model provides unbiased estimates of variance components and valid tests of the EEA under strong assumptions (e.g. no epistatic variance, IBD sharing in DZ twins estimated accurately etc.) which may not hold in reality. Sample sizes in excess of 50,000 DZ twin pairs with genome-wide genetic data are likely to be required in order to detect substantial violations of the EEA with moderate power. Consequently, we recommend that the Augmented Classical Twin Design only be applied to datasets with very large numbers of DZ twin pairs (> 50,000 DZ twin pairs), and given the strong assumptions relating to the absence of epistatic variance, appropriate caution be exercised regarding interpretation of the results.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10519-021-10044-0DOI Listing
May 2021

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

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

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

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

Digit ratio (2D:4D) and handedness: A meta-analysis of the available literature.

Laterality 2021 Jul 31;26(4):421-484. Epub 2021 Jan 31.

Department of Psychology, School of Human & Health Sciences, Swansea University, Swansea, UK.

The Geschwind-Behan-Galaburda and sexual differentiation models predict an association between elevated foetal androgen exposure and left-handedness whereas the callosal hypothesis predicts the opposite. We present a meta-analysis of correlations between handedness and digit ratio (2D:4D), a putative marker of prenatal testosterone. Left-handedness predicted low (male-typical) right-hand digit ratio (R2D:4D), high (female-typical) left-hand digit ratio (L2D:4D), and low R2D:4D-L2D:4D directional asymmetry (D). Effect sizes were extremely small and not moderated by sex or method of measuring handedness or 2D:4D. The same general pattern was observed after excluding the very large study (110,329 males, 90,412 females) of Manning and Peters ([2009]. Digit ratio (2D:4D) and hand preference for writing in the BBC Internet Study. , (5), 528-540. doi:10.1080/13576500802637872); however, no significant effects for R2D:4D were observed once these samples were removed. The results do not confirm any theory linking prenatal androgens with handedness, so we speculate they instead reflect the mechanical action of writing causing subtle changes in the musculature and/or fat pads of the fingers. Gripping a pen/pencil might cause an increase in 2D relative to 4D (and/or decrease in 4D relative to 2D) resulting in higher ratios on the writing-hand; furthermore, this could differ between left- and right-handers due to writing in the left-to-right direction (as in English) having asymmetrical effects depending on which hand is used.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1357650X.2020.1862141DOI Listing
July 2021

Ten years of enhancing neuro-imaging genetics through meta-analysis: An overview from the ENIGMA Genetics Working Group.

Hum Brain Mapp 2020 Dec 10. Epub 2020 Dec 10.

Imaging Genetics Center, Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, Keck School of Medicine of USC, University of Southern California, Marina del Rey, California, USA.

Here we review the motivation for creating the enhancing neuroimaging genetics through meta-analysis (ENIGMA) Consortium and the genetic analyses undertaken by the consortium so far. We discuss the methodological challenges, findings, and future directions of the genetics working group. A major goal of the working group is tackling the reproducibility crisis affecting "candidate gene" and genome-wide association analyses in neuroimaging. To address this, we developed harmonized analytic methods, and support their use in coordinated analyses across sites worldwide, which also makes it possible to understand heterogeneity in results across sites. These efforts have resulted in the identification of hundreds of common genomic loci robustly associated with brain structure. We have found both pleiotropic and specific genetic effects associated with brain structures, as well as genetic correlations with psychiatric and neurological diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25311DOI Listing
December 2020

The Evolutionary History of Common Genetic Variants Influencing Human Cortical Surface Area.

Cereb Cortex 2021 Mar;31(4):1873-1887

Department of Genetics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.

Structural brain changes along the lineage leading to modern Homo sapiens contributed to our distinctive cognitive and social abilities. However, the evolutionarily relevant molecular variants impacting key aspects of neuroanatomy are largely unknown. Here, we integrate evolutionary annotations of the genome at diverse timescales with common variant associations from large-scale neuroimaging genetic screens. We find that alleles with evidence of recent positive polygenic selection over the past 2000-3000 years are associated with increased surface area (SA) of the entire cortex, as well as specific regions, including those involved in spoken language and visual processing. Therefore, polygenic selective pressures impact the structure of specific cortical areas even over relatively recent timescales. Moreover, common sequence variation within human gained enhancers active in the prenatal cortex is associated with postnatal global SA. We show that such variation modulates the function of a regulatory element of the developmentally relevant transcription factor HEY2 in human neural progenitor cells and is associated with structural changes in the inferior frontal cortex. These results indicate that non-coding genomic regions active during prenatal cortical development are involved in the evolution of human brain structure and identify novel regulatory elements and genes impacting modern human brain structure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhaa327DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7945014PMC
March 2021

The genetic architecture of sporadic and multiple consecutive miscarriage.

Nat Commun 2020 11 25;11(1):5980. Epub 2020 Nov 25.

University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia.

Miscarriage is a common, complex trait affecting ~15% of clinically confirmed pregnancies. Here we present the results of large-scale genetic association analyses with 69,054 cases from five different ancestries for sporadic miscarriage, 750 cases of European ancestry for multiple (≥3) consecutive miscarriage, and up to 359,469 female controls. We identify one genome-wide significant association (rs146350366, minor allele frequency (MAF) 1.2%, P = 3.2 × 10, odds ratio (OR) = 1.4) for sporadic miscarriage in our European ancestry meta-analysis and three genome-wide significant associations for multiple consecutive miscarriage (rs7859844, MAF = 6.4%, P = 1.3 × 10, OR = 1.7; rs143445068, MAF = 0.8%, P = 5.2 × 10, OR = 3.4; rs183453668, MAF = 0.5%, P = 2.8 × 10, OR = 3.8). We further investigate the genetic architecture of miscarriage with biobank-scale Mendelian randomization, heritability, and genetic correlation analyses. Our results show that miscarriage etiopathogenesis is partly driven by genetic variation potentially related to placental biology, and illustrate the utility of large-scale biobank data for understanding this pregnancy complication.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19742-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7689465PMC
November 2020

Comparison of Genome-Wide Association Scans for Quantitative and Observational Measures of Human Hair Curvature.

Twin Res Hum Genet 2020 10;23(5):271-277

Psychiatric Genetics, Genetics and Computational Biology Department, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Australia.

Previous genetic studies on hair morphology focused on the overall morphology of the hair using data collected by self-report or researcher observation. Here, we present the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of a micro-level quantitative measure of hair curvature. We compare these results to GWAS results obtained using a macro-level classification of observable hair curvature performed in the same sample of twins and siblings of European descent. Observational data were collected by trained observers, while quantitative data were acquired using an Optical Fibre Diameter Analyser (OFDA). The GWAS for both the observational and quantitative measures of hair curvature resulted in genome-wide significant signals at chromosome 1q21.3 close to the trichohyalin (TCHH) gene, previously shown to harbor variants associated with straight hair morphology in Europeans. All genetic variants reaching genome-wide significance for both GWAS (quantitative measure lead single-nucleotide polymorphism [SNP] rs12130862, p = 9.5 × 10-09; observational measure lead SNP rs11803731, p = 2.1 × 10-17) were in moderate to very high linkage disequilibrium (LD) with each other (minimum r2 = .45), indicating they represent the same genetic locus. Conditional analyses confirmed the presence of only one signal associated with each measure at this locus. Results from the quantitative measures reconfirmed the accuracy of observational measures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/thg.2020.78DOI Listing
October 2020

A large-scale genome-wide association study meta-analysis of cannabis use disorder.

Lancet Psychiatry 2020 12 20;7(12):1032-1045. Epub 2020 Oct 20.

Stanford University Graduate School of Education, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.

Background: Variation in liability to cannabis use disorder has a strong genetic component (estimated twin and family heritability about 50-70%) and is associated with negative outcomes, including increased risk of psychopathology. The aim of the study was to conduct a large genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify novel genetic variants associated with cannabis use disorder.

Methods: To conduct this GWAS meta-analysis of cannabis use disorder and identify associations with genetic loci, we used samples from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium Substance Use Disorders working group, iPSYCH, and deCODE (20 916 case samples, 363 116 control samples in total), contrasting cannabis use disorder cases with controls. To examine the genetic overlap between cannabis use disorder and 22 traits of interest (chosen because of previously published phenotypic correlations [eg, psychiatric disorders] or hypothesised associations [eg, chronotype] with cannabis use disorder), we used linkage disequilibrium score regression to calculate genetic correlations.

Findings: We identified two genome-wide significant loci: a novel chromosome 7 locus (FOXP2, lead single-nucleotide polymorphism [SNP] rs7783012; odds ratio [OR] 1·11, 95% CI 1·07-1·15, p=1·84 × 10) and the previously identified chromosome 8 locus (near CHRNA2 and EPHX2, lead SNP rs4732724; OR 0·89, 95% CI 0·86-0·93, p=6·46 × 10). Cannabis use disorder and cannabis use were genetically correlated (r 0·50, p=1·50 × 10), but they showed significantly different genetic correlations with 12 of the 22 traits we tested, suggesting at least partially different genetic underpinnings of cannabis use and cannabis use disorder. Cannabis use disorder was positively genetically correlated with other psychopathology, including ADHD, major depression, and schizophrenia.

Interpretation: These findings support the theory that cannabis use disorder has shared genetic liability with other psychopathology, and there is a distinction between genetic liability to cannabis use and cannabis use disorder.

Funding: National Institute of Mental Health; National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; National Institute on Drug Abuse; Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine and the Centre for Integrative Sequencing; The European Commission, Horizon 2020; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; Health Research Council of New Zealand; National Institute on Aging; Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium; UK Research and Innovation Medical Research Council (UKRI MRC); The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation; National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Australia; Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program of the University of California; Families for Borderline Personality Disorder Research (Beth and Rob Elliott) 2018 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant; The National Child Health Research Foundation (Cure Kids); The Canterbury Medical Research Foundation; The New Zealand Lottery Grants Board; The University of Otago; The Carney Centre for Pharmacogenomics; The James Hume Bequest Fund; National Institutes of Health: Genes, Environment and Health Initiative; National Institutes of Health; National Cancer Institute; The William T Grant Foundation; Australian Research Council; The Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation; The VISN 1 and VISN 4 Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Centers of the US Department of Veterans Affairs; The 5th Framework Programme (FP-5) GenomEUtwin Project; The Lundbeck Foundation; NIH-funded Shared Instrumentation Grant S10RR025141; Clinical Translational Sciences Award grants; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institute of General Medical Sciences.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30339-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7674631PMC
December 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

Genetic correlations and genome-wide associations of cortical structure in general population samples of 22,824 adults.

Nat Commun 2020 09 22;11(1):4796. Epub 2020 Sep 22.

Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Cortical thickness, surface area and volumes vary with age and cognitive function, and in neurological and psychiatric diseases. Here we report heritability, genetic correlations and genome-wide associations of these cortical measures across the whole cortex, and in 34 anatomically predefined regions. Our discovery sample comprises 22,824 individuals from 20 cohorts within the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) consortium and the UK Biobank. We identify genetic heterogeneity between cortical measures and brain regions, and 160 genome-wide significant associations pointing to wnt/β-catenin, TGF-β and sonic hedgehog pathways. There is enrichment for genes involved in anthropometric traits, hindbrain development, vascular and neurodegenerative disease and psychiatric conditions. These data are a rich resource for studies of the biological mechanisms behind cortical development and aging.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-18367-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7508833PMC
September 2020

Septic Shock: A Genomewide Association Study and Polygenic Risk Score Analysis.

Twin Res Hum Genet 2020 08 5;23(4):204-213. Epub 2020 Aug 5.

The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Previous genetic association studies have failed to identify loci robustly associated with sepsis, and there have been no published genetic association studies or polygenic risk score analyses of patients with septic shock, despite evidence suggesting genetic factors may be involved. We systematically collected genotype and clinical outcome data in the context of a randomized controlled trial from patients with septic shock to enrich the presence of disease-associated genetic variants. We performed genomewide association studies of susceptibility and mortality in septic shock using 493 patients with septic shock and 2442 population controls, and polygenic risk score analysis to assess genetic overlap between septic shock risk/mortality with clinically relevant traits. One variant, rs9489328, located in AL589740.1 noncoding RNA, was significantly associated with septic shock (p = 1.05 × 10-10); however, it is likely a false-positive. We were unable to replicate variants previously reported to be associated (p < 1.00 × 10-6 in previous scans) with susceptibility to and mortality from sepsis. Polygenic risk scores for hematocrit and granulocyte count were negatively associated with 28-day mortality (p = 3.04 × 10-3; p = 2.29 × 10-3), and scores for C-reactive protein levels were positively associated with susceptibility to septic shock (p = 1.44 × 10-3). Results suggest that common variants of large effect do not influence septic shock susceptibility, mortality and resolution; however, genetic predispositions to clinically relevant traits are significantly associated with increased susceptibility and mortality in septic individuals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/thg.2020.60DOI Listing
August 2020

Genetic and environmental variation in educational attainment: an individual-based analysis of 28 twin cohorts.

Sci Rep 2020 07 29;10(1):12681. Epub 2020 Jul 29.

Washington State Twin Registry, Washington State University - Health Sciences Spokane, Spokane, WA, USA.

We investigated the heritability of educational attainment and how it differed between birth cohorts and cultural-geographic regions. A classical twin design was applied to pooled data from 28 cohorts representing 16 countries and including 193,518 twins with information on educational attainment at 25 years of age or older. Genetic factors explained the major part of individual differences in educational attainment (heritability: a = 0.43; 0.41-0.44), but also environmental variation shared by co-twins was substantial (c = 0.31; 0.30-0.33). The proportions of educational variation explained by genetic and shared environmental factors did not differ between Europe, North America and Australia, and East Asia. When restricted to twins 30 years or older to confirm finalized education, the heritability was higher in the older cohorts born in 1900-1949 (a = 0.44; 0.41-0.46) than in the later cohorts born in 1950-1989 (a = 0.38; 0.36-0.40), with a corresponding lower influence of common environmental factors (c = 0.31; 0.29-0.33 and c = 0.34; 0.32-0.36, respectively). In conclusion, both genetic and environmental factors shared by co-twins have an important influence on individual differences in educational attainment. The effect of genetic factors on educational attainment has decreased from the cohorts born before to those born after the 1950s.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-69526-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7391756PMC
July 2020

Curly Questions.

Authors:
Sarah E Medland

Twin Res Hum Genet 2020 04;23(2):98-99

Psychiatric Genetics, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Australia.

This letter reflects on my collaborations with Nick Martin over the past 18 years. Working together we have applied twin-family and statistical genetics methods to examine the genetic architecture and identify genetic variants influencing a range of physical, psychological and social traits. The common thread across much of this work has been the empirical questions: Why are we the way we are and how can this knowledge help us when things go wrong?
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/thg.2020.23DOI Listing
April 2020

Editorial.

Twin Res Hum Genet 2020 04;23(2):67

Department of Psychiatry, Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavior Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/thg.2020.45DOI Listing
April 2020

Cohort profile: the Australian genetics of depression study.

BMJ Open 2020 05 26;10(5):e032580. Epub 2020 May 26.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Herston, Queensland, Australia.

Purpose: Depression is the most common psychiatric disorder and the largest contributor to global disability. The Australian Genetics of Depression study was established to recruit a large cohort of individuals who have been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lifetime. The purpose of establishing this cohort is to investigate genetic and environmental risk factors for depression and response to commonly prescribed antidepressants.

Participants: A total of 20 689 participants were recruited through the Australian Department of Human Services and a media campaign, 75% of whom were female. The average age of participants was 43 years±15 years. Participants completed an online questionnaire that consisted of a compulsory module that assessed self-reported psychiatric history, clinical depression using the Composite Interview Diagnostic Interview Short Form and experiences of using commonly prescribed antidepressants. Further voluntary modules assessed a wide range of traits of relevance to psychopathology. Participants who reported they were willing to provide a DNA sample (75%) were sent a saliva kit in the mail.

Findings To Date: 95% of participants reported being given a diagnosis of depression by a medical practitioner and 88% met the criteria for a lifetime depressive episode. 68% of the sample report having been diagnosed with another psychiatric disorder in addition to depression. In line with findings from clinical trials, only 33% of the sample report responding well to the first antidepressant they were prescribed.

Future Plans: A number of analyses to investigate the genetic architecture of depression and common comorbidities will be conducted. The cohort will contribute to the global effort to identify genetic variants that increase risk to depression. Furthermore, a thorough investigation of genetic and psychosocial predictors of antidepressant response and side effects is planned.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2019-032580DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7259831PMC
May 2020

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

Mol Psychiatry 2020 May 18. Epub 2020 May 18.

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

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with an increased risk of brain atrophy, aging-related diseases, and mortality. We examined potential advanced brain aging in adult MDD patients, and whether this process is associated with clinical characteristics in a large multicenter international dataset. We performed a mega-analysis by pooling brain measures derived from T1-weighted MRI scans from 19 samples worldwide. Healthy brain aging was estimated by predicting chronological age (18-75 years) from 7 subcortical volumes, 34 cortical thickness and 34 surface area, lateral ventricles and total intracranial volume measures separately in 952 male and 1236 female controls from the ENIGMA MDD working group. The learned model coefficients were applied to 927 male controls and 986 depressed males, and 1199 female controls and 1689 depressed females to obtain independent unbiased brain-based age predictions. The difference between predicted "brain age" and chronological age was calculated to indicate brain-predicted age difference (brain-PAD). On average, MDD patients showed a higher brain-PAD of +1.08 (SE 0.22) years (Cohen's d = 0.14, 95% CI: 0.08-0.20) compared with controls. However, this difference did not seem to be driven by specific clinical characteristics (recurrent status, remission status, antidepressant medication use, age of onset, or symptom severity). This highly powered collaborative effort showed subtle patterns of age-related structural brain abnormalities in MDD. Substantial within-group variance and overlap between groups were observed. Longitudinal studies of MDD and somatic health outcomes are needed to further assess the clinical value of these brain-PAD estimates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-020-0754-0DOI Listing
May 2020