Publications by authors named "Till F M Andlauer"

54 Publications

GWAS META-analysis followed by MENDELIAN randomisation revealed potential control mechanisms for circulating α-klotho levels.

Hum Mol Genet 2021 Sep 20. Epub 2021 Sep 20.

MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (IEU), Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Oakfield House, Oakfield Grove, Bristol, United Kingdom.

Background: The protein α-Klotho acts as transmembrane the co-receptor for fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF-23) and is a key regulator of phosphate homeostasis. However, α-Klotho also exists in a circulating form, with pleiotropic, but incompletely understood functions and regulation. Therefore, we undertook a GWAS meta-analysis followed by Mendelian randomisation (MR) of circulating α-Klotho levels.

Methods: Plasma α-Klotho levels were measured by ELISA in the LURIC and ALSPAC (mothers) cohorts, followed by a GWAS meta-analysis in 4376 individuals across the two cohorts.

Results: Six signals at five loci were associated with circulating α-Klotho levels at genome-wide significance (p < 5 × 10-8), namely ABO, KL, FGFR1, and two post-translational modification genes, B4GALNT3 and CHST9. Together, these loci explained > 9% of the variation in circulating α-Klotho levels. MR analyses revealed no causal relationships between α-Klotho and renal function, FGF-23-dependent factors such as vitamin D and phosphate levels, or bone mineral density. The screening for genetic correlations with other phenotypes, followed by targeted MR suggested causal effects of liability of Crohn's disease risk [IVW beta = 0.059 (95% CI 0.026, 0.093)] and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels [-0.198, (-0.332, -0.063)] on α-Klotho.

Conclusions: Our GWAS findings suggest that two enzymes involved in post-translational modification, B4GALNT3 and CHST9, contribute to genetic influences on α-Klotho levels, presumably by affecting protein turnover and stability. Subsequent evidence from MR analyses on α-Klotho levels suggest regulation by mechanisms besides phosphate-homeostasis and raise the possibility of cross-talk with FGF19- and FGF21-dependent pathways, respectively.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddab263DOI Listing
September 2021

A genome-wide association study of the longitudinal course of executive functions.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 07 10;11(1):386. Epub 2021 Jul 10.

AMEOS Clinical Center Hildesheim, Hildesheim, 31135, Germany.

Executive functions are metacognitive capabilities that control and coordinate mental processes. In the transdiagnostic PsyCourse Study, comprising patients of the affective-to-psychotic spectrum and controls, we investigated the genetic basis of the time course of two core executive subfunctions: set-shifting (Trail Making Test, part B (TMT-B)) and updating (Verbal Digit Span backwards) in 1338 genotyped individuals. Time course was assessed with four measurement points, each 6 months apart. Compared to the initial assessment, executive performance improved across diagnostic groups. We performed a genome-wide association study to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with performance change over time by testing for SNP-by-time interactions using linear mixed models. We identified nine genome-wide significant SNPs for TMT-B in strong linkage disequilibrium with each other on chromosome 5. These were associated with decreased performance on the continuous TMT-B score across time. Variant rs150547358 had the lowest P value = 7.2 × 10 with effect estimate beta = 1.16 (95% c.i.: 1.11, 1.22). Implementing data of the FOR2107 consortium (1795 individuals), we replicated these findings for the SNP rs150547358 (P value = 0.015), analyzing the difference of the two available measurement points two years apart. In the replication study, rs150547358 exhibited a similar effect estimate beta = 0.85 (95% c.i.: 0.74, 0.97). Our study demonstrates that longitudinally measured phenotypes have the potential to unmask novel associations, adding time as a dimension to the effects of genomics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01510-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8272719PMC
July 2021

Interaction of developmental factors and ordinary stressful life events on brain structure in adults.

Neuroimage Clin 2021 21;30:102683. Epub 2021 Apr 21.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Rudolf-Bultmann-Str. 8, 35039 Marburg, Germany; Center for Mind, Brain and Behavior (CMBB), University of Marburg and Justus Liebig University Giessen, Hans-Meerwein-Str. 6, 35032 Marburg, Germany; Marburg University Hospital - UKGM, Rudolf-Bultmann-Str. 8, 35039 Marburg, Germany.

An interplay of early environmental and genetic risk factors with recent stressful life events (SLEs) in adulthood increases the risk for adverse mental health outcomes. The interaction of early risk and current SLEs on brain structure has hardly been investigated. Whole brain voxel-based morphometry analysis was performed in N = 786 (64.6% female, mean age = 33.39) healthy subjects to identify correlations of brain clusters with commonplace recent SLEs. Genetic and early environmental risk factors, operationalized as those for severe psychopathology (i.e., polygenic scores for neuroticism, childhood maltreatment, urban upbringing and paternal age) were assessed as modulators of the impact of SLEs on the brain. SLEs were negatively correlated with grey matter volume in the left medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC, FWE p = 0.003). This association was present for both, positive and negative, life events. Cognitive-emotional variables, i.e., neuroticism, perceived stress, trait anxiety, intelligence, and current depressive symptoms did not account for the SLE-mOFC association. Further, genetic and environmental risk factors were not correlated with grey matter volume in the left mOFC cluster and did not affect the association between SLEs and left mOFC grey matter volume. The orbitofrontal cortex has been implicated in stress-related psychopathology, particularly major depression in previous studies. We find that SLEs are associated with this area. Important early life risk factors do not interact with current SLEs on brain morphology in healthy subjects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2021.102683DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8102615PMC
July 2021

Identification of transdiagnostic psychiatric disorder subtypes using unsupervised learning.

Neuropsychopharmacology 2021 10 14;46(11):1895-1905. Epub 2021 Jun 14.

Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany.

Psychiatric disorders show heterogeneous symptoms and trajectories, with current nosology not accurately reflecting their molecular etiology and the variability and symptomatic overlap within and between diagnostic classes. This heterogeneity impedes timely and targeted treatment. Our study aimed to identify psychiatric patient clusters that share clinical and genetic features and may profit from similar therapies. We used high-dimensional data clustering on deep clinical data to identify transdiagnostic groups in a discovery sample (N = 1250) of healthy controls and patients diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and other psychiatric disorders. We observed five diagnostically mixed clusters and ordered them based on severity. The least impaired cluster 0, containing most healthy controls, showed general well-being. Clusters 1-3 differed predominantly regarding levels of maltreatment, depression, daily functioning, and parental bonding. Cluster 4 contained most patients diagnosed with psychotic disorders and exhibited the highest severity in many dimensions, including medication load. Depressed patients were present in all clusters, indicating that we captured different disease stages or subtypes. We replicated all but the smallest cluster 1 in an independent sample (N = 622). Next, we analyzed genetic differences between clusters using polygenic scores (PGS) and the psychiatric family history. These genetic variables differed mainly between clusters 0 and 4 (prediction area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) = 81%; significant PGS: cross-disorder psychiatric risk, schizophrenia, and educational attainment). Our results confirm that psychiatric disorders consist of heterogeneous subtypes sharing molecular factors and symptoms. The identification of transdiagnostic clusters advances our understanding of the heterogeneity of psychiatric disorders and may support the development of personalized treatments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41386-021-01051-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8429672PMC
October 2021

Polygenic scores differentially predict developmental trajectories of subtypes of social withdrawal in childhood.

J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2021 Jun 3. Epub 2021 Jun 3.

École de psychologie, Université Laval, Quebec City, QC, Canada.

Background: Children who consistently withdraw from social situations face increased risk for later socioemotional difficulties. Twin studies indicate that genetic factors substantially account for the persistence of social withdrawal over time. However, the molecular genetic etiology of chronic courses of social wariness and preference for solitude, two dimensions of social withdrawal, remains undocumented. The objectives of the present study were (a) to identify high-risk trajectories for social wariness and preference for solitude in childhood and (b) to examine whether falling on these high-risk trajectories can be predicted by specific polygenic scores for mental health traits and disorders and by a general polygenic predisposition to these traits.

Methods: Teachers evaluated 971 genotyped children at five occasions (age 6 to 12 years) from two prospective longitudinal studies, the Quebec Newborn Twin Study and the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development. Developmental trajectories for social wariness and preference for solitude were identified. We tested whether polygenic scores for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, depression, loneliness, and subjective well-being, as well as a general mental health genetic risk score derived across these traits, were associated with the developmental trajectories.

Results: Polygenic scores differentially predicted social wariness and preference for solitude. Only the loneliness polygenic score significantly predicted the high trajectory for social wariness. By contrast, the general mental health genetic risk score factor was associated with the trajectory depicting high-chronic preference for solitude.

Conclusions: Distinct associations were uncovered between the polygenic scores, social wariness, and preference for solitude.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13459DOI Listing
June 2021

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

Genetic factors influencing a neurobiological substrate for psychiatric disorders.

Transl Psychiatry 2021 03 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

Genetic Variation in WNT9B Increases Relapse Hazard in Multiple Sclerosis.

Ann Neurol 2021 05 24;89(5):884-894. Epub 2021 Mar 24.

Department of Neurosciences, Laboratory for Neuroimmunology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

Objective: Many multiple sclerosis (MS) genetic susceptibility variants have been identified, but understanding disease heterogeneity remains a key challenge. Relapses are a core feature of MS and a common primary outcome of clinical trials, with prevention of relapses benefiting patients immediately and potentially limiting long-term disability accrual. We aim to identify genetic variation associated with relapse hazard in MS by analyzing the largest study population to date.

Methods: We performed a genomewide association study (GWAS) in a discovery cohort and investigated the genomewide significant variants in a replication cohort. Combining both cohorts, we captured a total of 2,231 relapses occurring before the start of any immunomodulatory treatment in 991 patients. For assessing time to relapse, we applied a survival analysis utilizing Cox proportional hazards models. We also investigated the association between MS genetic risk scores and relapse hazard and performed a gene ontology pathway analysis.

Results: The low-frequency genetic variant rs11871306 within WNT9B reached genomewide significance in predicting relapse hazard and replicated (meta-analysis hazard ratio (HR) = 2.15, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.70-2.78, p = 2.07 × 10 ). A pathway analysis identified an association of the pathway "response to vitamin D" with relapse hazard (p = 4.33 × 10 ). The MS genetic risk scores, however, were not associated with relapse hazard.

Interpretation: Genetic factors underlying disease heterogeneity differ from variants associated with MS susceptibility. Our findings imply that genetic variation within the Wnt signaling and vitamin D pathways contributes to differences in relapse occurrence. The present study highlights these cross-talking pathways as potential modulators of MS disease activity. ANN NEUROL 2021;89:884-894.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.26061DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8252032PMC
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

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

Sunlight exposure exerts immunomodulatory effects to reduce multiple sclerosis severity.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2021 01;118(1)

Department of Neurology, Neuroimmunological Section, University of Rostock, 18051 Rostock, Germany.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) disease risk is associated with reduced sun-exposure. This study assessed the relationship between measures of sun exposure (vitamin D [vitD], latitude) and MS severity in the setting of two multicenter cohort studies ( = 946, = 990). Additionally, effect-modification by medication and photosensitivity-associated variants was assessed. High serum vitD was associated with a reduced MS severity score (MSSS), reduced risk for relapses, and lower disability accumulation over time. Low latitude was associated with higher vitD, lower MSSS, fewer gadolinium-enhancing lesions, and lower disability accumulation. The association of latitude with disability was lacking in IFN-β-treated patients. In carriers of :rs1805008(T), who reported increased sensitivity toward sunlight, lower latitude was associated with higher MRI activity, whereas for noncarriers there was less MRI activity at lower latitudes. In a further exploratory approach, the effect of ultraviolet (UV)-phototherapy on the transcriptome of immune cells of MS patients was assessed using samples from an earlier study. Phototherapy induced a vitD and type I IFN signature that was most apparent in monocytes but that could also be detected in B and T cells. In summary, our study suggests beneficial effects of sun exposure on established MS, as demonstrated by a correlative network between the three factors: Latitude, vitD, and disease severity. However, sun exposure might be detrimental for photosensitive patients. Furthermore, a direct induction of type I IFNs through sun exposure could be another mechanism of UV-mediated immune-modulation in MS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2018457118DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7817192PMC
January 2021

Fatigue, depression, and pain in multiple sclerosis: How neuroinflammation translates into dysfunctional reward processing and anhedonic symptoms.

Mult Scler 2020 Nov 12:1352458520972279. Epub 2020 Nov 12.

Department of Neurology, Klinikum rechts der Isar, School of Medicine, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany/TUM-Neuroimaging Center, School of Medicine, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany.

Fatigue, depression, and pain affect the majority of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, which causes a substantial burden to patients and society. The pathophysiology of these symptoms is not entirely clear, and current treatments are only partially effective. Clinically, these symptoms share signs of anhedonia, such as reduced motivation and a lack of positive affect. In the brain, they are associated with overlapping structural and functional alterations in areas involved in reward processing. Moreover, neuroinflammation has been shown to directly impede monoaminergic neurotransmission that plays a key role in reward processing. Here, we review recent neuroimaging and neuroimmunological findings, which indicate that dysfunctional reward processing might represent a shared functional mechanism fostering the symptom cluster of fatigue, depression, and pain in MS. We propose a framework that integrates these findings with a focus on monoaminergic neurotransmission and discuss its therapeutic implications, limitations, and perspectives.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1352458520972279DOI Listing
November 2020

Treatment- and population-specific genetic risk factors for anti-drug antibodies against interferon-beta: a GWAS.

BMC Med 2020 11 4;18(1):298. Epub 2020 Nov 4.

Department of Neurology, Klinikum rechts der Isar, School of Medicine, Technical University of Munich, Ismaninger Str 22, 81675, Munich, Germany.

Background: Upon treatment with biopharmaceuticals, the immune system may produce anti-drug antibodies (ADA) that inhibit the therapy. Up to 40% of multiple sclerosis patients treated with interferon β (IFNβ) develop ADA, for which a genetic predisposition exists. Here, we present a genome-wide association study on ADA and predict the occurrence of antibodies in multiple sclerosis patients treated with different interferon β preparations.

Methods: We analyzed a large sample of 2757 genotyped and imputed patients from two cohorts (Sweden and Germany), split between a discovery and a replication dataset. Binding ADA (bADA) levels were measured by capture-ELISA, neutralizing ADA (nADA) titers using a bioassay. Genome-wide association analyses were conducted stratified by cohort and treatment preparation, followed by fixed-effects meta-analysis.

Results: Binding ADA levels and nADA titers were correlated and showed a significant heritability (47% and 50%, respectively). The risk factors differed strongly by treatment preparation: The top-associated and replicated variants for nADA presence were the HLA-associated variants rs77278603 in IFNβ-1a s.c.- (odds ratio (OR) = 3.55 (95% confidence interval = 2.81-4.48), p = 2.1 × 10) and rs28366299 in IFNβ-1b s.c.-treated patients (OR = 3.56 (2.69-4.72), p = 6.6 × 10). The rs77278603-correlated HLA haplotype DR15-DQ6 conferred risk specifically for IFNβ-1a s.c. (OR = 2.88 (2.29-3.61), p = 7.4 × 10) while DR3-DQ2 was protective (OR = 0.37 (0.27-0.52), p = 3.7 × 10). The haplotype DR4-DQ3 was the major risk haplotype for IFNβ-1b s.c. (OR = 7.35 (4.33-12.47), p = 1.5 × 10). These haplotypes exhibit large population-specific frequency differences. The best prediction models were achieved for ADA in IFNβ-1a s.c.-treated patients. Here, the prediction in the Swedish cohort showed AUC = 0.91 (0.85-0.95), sensitivity = 0.78, and specificity = 0.90; patients with the top 30% of genetic risk had, compared to patients in the bottom 30%, an OR = 73.9 (11.8-463.6, p = 4.4 × 10) of developing nADA. In the German cohort, the AUC of the same model was 0.83 (0.71-0.92), sensitivity = 0.80, specificity = 0.76, with an OR = 13.8 (3.0-63.3, p = 7.5 × 10).

Conclusions: We identified several HLA-associated genetic risk factors for ADA against interferon β, which were specific for treatment preparations and population backgrounds. Genetic prediction models could robustly identify patients at risk for developing ADA and might be used for personalized therapy recommendations and stratified ADA screening in clinical practice. These analyses serve as a roadmap for genetic characterizations of ADA against other biopharmaceutical compounds.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12916-020-01769-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7641861PMC
November 2020

Gene Expression in Spontaneous Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis Is Linked to Human Multiple Sclerosis Risk Genes.

Front Immunol 2020 18;11:2165. Epub 2020 Sep 18.

Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany.

Recent genome-wide association studies have identified over 230 genetic risk loci for multiple sclerosis. Current experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) models requiring active induction of disease may not be optimally suited for the characterization of the function of these genes. We have thus used gene expression profiling to study whether spontaneous opticospinal EAE (OSE) or MOG-induced EAE mirrors the genetic contribution to the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis more faithfully. To this end, we compared gene expression in OSE and MOG EAE models and analyzed the relationship of both models to human multiple sclerosis risk genes and T helper cell biology. We observed stronger gene expression changes and an involvement of more pathways of the adaptive immune system in OSE than MOG EAE. Furthermore, we demonstrated a more extensive enrichment of human MS risk genes among transcripts differentially expressed in OSE than was the case for MOG EAE. Transcripts differentially expressed only in diseased OSE mice but not in MOG EAE were significantly enriched for T helper cell-specific transcripts. These transcripts are part of immune-regulatory pathways. The activation of the adaptive immune system and the enrichment of both human multiple sclerosis risk genes and T helper cell-specific transcripts were also observed in OSE mice showing only mild disease signs. These expression changes may, therefore, be indicative of processes at disease onset. In summary, more human multiple sclerosis risk genes were differentially expressed in OSE than was observed for MOG EAE, especially in T1 cells. When studying the functional role of multiple sclerosis risk genes and pathways during disease onset and their interactions with the environment, spontaneous OSE may thus show advantages over MOG-induced EAE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2020.02165DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7531036PMC
May 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

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
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8115656PMC
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

Genetic comorbidity between major depression and cardio-metabolic traits, stratified by age at onset of major depression.

Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet 2020 09 18;183(6):309-330. Epub 2020 Jul 18.

Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany.

It is imperative to understand the specific and shared etiologies of major depression and cardio-metabolic disease, as both traits are frequently comorbid and each represents a major burden to society. This study examined whether there is a genetic association between major depression and cardio-metabolic traits and if this association is stratified by age at onset for major depression. Polygenic risk scores analysis and linkage disequilibrium score regression was performed to examine whether differences in shared genetic etiology exist between depression case control status (N cases = 40,940, N controls = 67,532), earlier (N = 15,844), and later onset depression (N = 15,800) with body mass index, coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes in 11 data sets from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, Generation Scotland, and UK Biobank. All cardio-metabolic polygenic risk scores were associated with depression status. Significant genetic correlations were found between depression and body mass index, coronary artery disease, and type 2 diabetes. Higher polygenic risk for body mass index, coronary artery disease, and type 2 diabetes was associated with both early and later onset depression, while higher polygenic risk for stroke was associated with later onset depression only. Significant genetic correlations were found between body mass index and later onset depression, and between coronary artery disease and both early and late onset depression. The phenotypic associations between major depression and cardio-metabolic traits may partly reflect their overlapping genetic etiology irrespective of the age depression first presents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.b.32807DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7991693PMC
September 2020

Genetic determinants of the humoral immune response in MS.

Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm 2020 09 16;7(5). Epub 2020 Jul 16.

From the Department of Neurology (C.G., T.F.M.A., A. Keating, B.K., A. Klein, V.P., A. Berthele, B.H.), Klinikum rechts der Isar, School of Medicine, Technical University of Munich; Institute of Human Genetics (P.L.), Helmholtz Zentrum München, Neuherberg; Department of Neurology (R.G.), St. Josef Hospital, Ruhr-University Bochum; Department of Neurology, Focus Program Translational Neurosciences (FTN) and Research Center for Immunotherapy (FZI), Rhine-Main Neuroscience Network (rmn2) (F.Z.), University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz; Department of Neurology and Translational Center for Regenerative Medicine (F.T.B.), University of Leipzig; Clinical Neuroimmunology and Neurochemistry (M.S.), Department of Neurology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover; Department of Neurology (H.T.), University of Ulm; Clinic of Neurology Dietenbronn (H.T.), Schwendi; Department of Neurology (B.W.), University Hospital Heidelberg; Department of Neurology (H.W.), University of Münster; Department of Neurology (A. Bayas), University Hospital Augsburg; Institute of Clinical Neuroimmunology (T.K.), University Hospital and Biomedical Center, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich; Department of Neurology (U.K.Z.), Neuroimmunological Section, University of Rostock; Department of Neurology (R.A.L.), University Hospital Erlangen; Department of Neurology (R.A.L.), University of Regensburg; Department of Neurology & Stroke and Hertie-Institute for Clinical Brain Research (U.Z.), Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen; Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry (M.K.), Munich; Department of Neurology (C.W.), Medical Faculty, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf; Department of Neurology (C.W.), University Hospital Cologne; Institute of Neuroimmunology and Multiple Sclerosis (M.A.F), University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg; NeuroCure Clinical Research Center (F.P.), Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Corporate Member of Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; Berlin Institute of Health and Experimental and Clinical Research Center (F.P.), Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine and Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin; and Center of Neuroimmunology (B.T.), Philipps-University Marburg; and Munich Cluster for Systems Neurology (SyNergy) (B.H.), Germany.

Objective: In this observational study, we investigated the impact of genetic factors at the immunoglobulin heavy chain constant locus on chromosome 14 and the major histocompatibility complex region on intrathecal immunoglobulin G, A, and M levels as well as on B cells and plasmablasts in the CSF and blood of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Methods: Using regression analyses, we tested genetic variants on chromosome 14 and imputed human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles for associations with intrathecal immunoglobulins in 1,279 patients with MS or clinically isolated syndrome and with blood and CSF B cells and plasmablasts in 301 and 348 patients, respectively.

Results: The minor alleles of variants on chromosome 14 were associated with higher intrathecal immunoglobulin G levels (β = 0.58 [0.47 to 0.68], lowest adjusted = 2.32 × 10), and lower intrathecal immunoglobulin M (β = -0.56 [-0.67 to -0.46], = 2.06 × 10) and A (β = -0.42 [-0.54 to -0.31], = 7.48 × 10) levels. Alleles from the HLA-B*07:02-DRB1*15:01-DQA1*01:02-DQB1*06:02 haplotype were associated with higher (lowest = 2.14 × 10) and HLA-B*44:02 with lower (β = -0.35 [-0.54 to -0.17], = 1.38 × 10) immunoglobulin G levels. Of interest, different HLA alleles were associated with lower intrathecal immunoglobulin M (HLA-C*02:02, β = -0.45 [-0.61 to -0.28], = 1.01 × 10) and higher immunoglobulin A levels (HLA-DQA1*01:03-DQB1*06:03-DRB1*13:01 haplotype, β = 0.40 [0.21 to 0.60], = 4.46 × 10). The impact of HLA alleles on intrathecal immunoglobulin G and M levels could mostly be explained by associations with CSF B cells and plasmablasts.

Conclusion: Although some HLA alleles seem to primarily drive the extent of humoral immune responses in the CNS by increasing CSF B cells and plasmablasts, genetic variants at the immunoglobulin heavy chain constant locus might regulate intrathecal immunoglobulins levels via different mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/NXI.0000000000000827DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7371373PMC
September 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

Minimal phenotyping yields genome-wide association signals of low specificity for major depression.

Nat Genet 2020 04 30;52(4):437-447. Epub 2020 Mar 30.

Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY, USA.

Minimal phenotyping refers to the reliance on the use of a small number of self-reported items for disease case identification, increasingly used in genome-wide association studies (GWAS). Here we report differences in genetic architecture between depression defined by minimal phenotyping and strictly defined major depressive disorder (MDD): the former has a lower genotype-derived heritability that cannot be explained by inclusion of milder cases and a higher proportion of the genome contributing to this shared genetic liability with other conditions than for strictly defined MDD. GWAS based on minimal phenotyping definitions preferentially identifies loci that are not specific to MDD, and, although it generates highly predictive polygenic risk scores, the predictive power can be explained entirely by large sample sizes rather than by specificity for MDD. Our results show that reliance on results from minimal phenotyping may bias views of the genetic architecture of MDD and impede the ability to identify pathways specific to MDD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-020-0594-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7906795PMC
April 2020

An Investigation of Psychosis Subgroups With Prognostic Validation and Exploration of Genetic Underpinnings: The PsyCourse Study.

JAMA Psychiatry 2020 05;77(5):523-533

Department of Psychiatry, Ruhr University Bochum, LWL University Hospital, Bochum, Germany.

Importance: Identifying psychosis subgroups could improve clinical and research precision. Research has focused on symptom subgroups, but there is a need to consider a broader clinical spectrum, disentangle illness trajectories, and investigate genetic associations.

Objective: To detect psychosis subgroups using data-driven methods and examine their illness courses over 1.5 years and polygenic scores for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression disorder, and educational achievement.

Design, Setting, And Participants: This ongoing multisite, naturalistic, longitudinal (6-month intervals) cohort study began in January 2012 across 18 sites. Data from a referred sample of 1223 individuals (765 in the discovery sample and 458 in the validation sample) with DSM-IV diagnoses of schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder (I/II), schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform disorder, and brief psychotic disorder were collected from secondary and tertiary care sites. Discovery data were extracted in September 2016 and analyzed from November 2016 to January 2018, and prospective validation data were extracted in October 2018 and analyzed from January to May 2019.

Main Outcomes And Measures: A clinical battery of 188 variables measuring demographic characteristics, clinical history, symptoms, functioning, and cognition was decomposed using nonnegative matrix factorization clustering. Subtype-specific illness courses were compared with mixed models and polygenic scores with analysis of covariance. Supervised learning was used to replicate results in validation data with the most reliably discriminative 45 variables.

Results: Of the 765 individuals in the discovery sample, 341 (44.6%) were women, and the mean (SD) age was 42.7 (12.9) years. Five subgroups were found and labeled as affective psychosis (n = 252), suicidal psychosis (n = 44), depressive psychosis (n = 131), high-functioning psychosis (n = 252), and severe psychosis (n = 86). Illness courses with significant quadratic interaction terms were found for psychosis symptoms (R2 = 0.41; 95% CI, 0.38-0.44), depression symptoms (R2 = 0.28; 95% CI, 0.25-0.32), global functioning (R2 = 0.16; 95% CI, 0.14-0.20), and quality of life (R2 = 0.20; 95% CI, 0.17-0.23). The depressive and severe psychosis subgroups exhibited the lowest functioning and quadratic illness courses with partial recovery followed by reoccurrence of severe illness. Differences were found for educational attainment polygenic scores (mean [SD] partial η2 = 0.014 [0.003]) but not for diagnostic polygenic risk. Results were largely replicated in the validation cohort.

Conclusions And Relevance: Psychosis subgroups were detected with distinctive clinical signatures and illness courses and specificity for a nondiagnostic genetic marker. New data-driven clinical approaches are important for future psychosis taxonomies. The findings suggest a need to consider short-term to medium-term service provision to restore functioning in patients stratified into the depressive and severe psychosis subgroups.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.4910DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7042925PMC
May 2020

The role of environmental stress and DNA methylation in the longitudinal course of bipolar disorder.

Int J Bipolar Disord 2020 Feb 12;8(1). Epub 2020 Feb 12.

Department of Genetic Epidemiology in Psychiatry, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, 68159, Mannheim, Germany.

Background: Stressful life events influence the course of affective disorders, however, the mechanisms by which they bring about phenotypic change are not entirely known.

Methods: We explored the role of DNA methylation in response to recent stressful life events in a cohort of bipolar patients from the longitudinal PsyCourse study (n = 96). Peripheral blood DNA methylomes were profiled at two time points for over 850,000 methylation sites. The association between impact ratings of stressful life events and DNA methylation was assessed, first by interrogating methylation sites in the vicinity of candidate genes previously implicated in the stress response and, second, by conducting an exploratory epigenome-wide association analysis. Third, the association between epigenetic aging and change in stress and symptom measures over time was investigated.

Results: Investigation of methylation signatures over time revealed just over half of the CpG sites tested had an absolute difference in methylation of at least 1% over a 1-year period. Although not a single CpG site withstood correction for multiple testing, methylation at one site (cg15212455) was suggestively associated with stressful life events (p < 1.0 × 10). Epigenetic aging over a 1-year period was not associated with changes in stress or symptom measures.

Conclusions: To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first to investigate epigenome-wide methylation across time in bipolar patients and in relation to recent, non-traumatic stressful life events. Limited and inconclusive evidence warrants future longitudinal investigations in larger samples of well-characterized bipolar patients to give a complete picture regarding the role of DNA methylation in the course of bipolar disorder.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40345-019-0176-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7013010PMC
February 2020

DeepWAS: Multivariate genotype-phenotype associations by directly integrating regulatory information using deep learning.

PLoS Comput Biol 2020 02 3;16(2):e1007616. Epub 2020 Feb 3.

Institute of Computational Biology, Helmholtz Zentrum München, Neuherberg, Germany.

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) identify genetic variants associated with traits or diseases. GWAS never directly link variants to regulatory mechanisms. Instead, the functional annotation of variants is typically inferred by post hoc analyses. A specific class of deep learning-based methods allows for the prediction of regulatory effects per variant on several cell type-specific chromatin features. We here describe "DeepWAS", a new approach that integrates these regulatory effect predictions of single variants into a multivariate GWAS setting. Thereby, single variants associated with a trait or disease are directly coupled to their impact on a chromatin feature in a cell type. Up to 61 regulatory SNPs, called dSNPs, were associated with multiple sclerosis (MS, 4,888 cases and 10,395 controls), major depressive disorder (MDD, 1,475 cases and 2,144 controls), and height (5,974 individuals). These variants were mainly non-coding and reached at least nominal significance in classical GWAS. The prediction accuracy was higher for DeepWAS than for classical GWAS models for 91% of the genome-wide significant, MS-specific dSNPs. DSNPs were enriched in public or cohort-matched expression and methylation quantitative trait loci and we demonstrated the potential of DeepWAS to generate testable functional hypotheses based on genotype data alone. DeepWAS is available at https://github.com/cellmapslab/DeepWAS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1007616DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7043350PMC
February 2020

Bipolar multiplex families have an increased burden of common risk variants for psychiatric disorders.

Mol Psychiatry 2021 04 11;26(4):1286-1298. Epub 2019 Nov 11.

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

Multiplex families with a high prevalence of a psychiatric disorder are often examined to identify rare genetic variants with large effect sizes. In the present study, we analysed whether the risk for bipolar disorder (BD) in BD multiplex families is influenced by common genetic variants. Furthermore, we investigated whether this risk is conferred mainly by BD-specific risk variants or by variants also associated with the susceptibility to schizophrenia or major depression. In total, 395 individuals from 33 Andalusian BD multiplex families (166 BD, 78 major depressive disorder, 151 unaffected) as well as 438 subjects from an independent, BD case/control cohort (161 unrelated BD, 277 unrelated controls) were analysed. Polygenic risk scores (PRS) for BD, schizophrenia (SCZ), and major depression were calculated and compared between the cohorts. Both the familial BD cases and unaffected family members had higher PRS for all three psychiatric disorders than the independent controls, with BD and SCZ being significant after correction for multiple testing, suggesting a high baseline risk for several psychiatric disorders in the families. Moreover, familial BD cases showed significantly higher BD PRS than unaffected family members and unrelated BD cases. A plausible hypothesis is that, in multiplex families with a general increase in risk for psychiatric disease, BD development is attributable to a high burden of common variants that confer a specific risk for BD. The present analyses demonstrated that common genetic risk variants for psychiatric disorders are likely to contribute to the high incidence of affective psychiatric disorders in the multiplex families. However, the PRS explained only part of the observed phenotypic variance, and rare variants might have also contributed to disease development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41380-019-0558-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7985020PMC
April 2021

Classical Human Leukocyte Antigen Alleles and C4 Haplotypes Are Not Significantly Associated With Depression.

Biol Psychiatry 2020 03 5;87(5):419-430. Epub 2019 Aug 5.

Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany.

Background: The prevalence of depression is higher in individuals with autoimmune diseases, but the mechanisms underlying the observed comorbidities are unknown. Shared genetic etiology is a plausible explanation for the overlap, and in this study we tested whether genetic variation in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which is associated with risk for autoimmune diseases, is also associated with risk for depression.

Methods: We fine-mapped the classical MHC (chr6: 29.6-33.1 Mb), imputing 216 human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles and 4 complement component 4 (C4) haplotypes in studies from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium Major Depressive Disorder Working Group and the UK Biobank. The total sample size was 45,149 depression cases and 86,698 controls. We tested for association between depression status and imputed MHC variants, applying both a region-wide significance threshold (3.9 × 10) and a candidate threshold (1.6 × 10).

Results: No HLA alleles or C4 haplotypes were associated with depression at the region-wide threshold. HLA-B*08:01 was associated with modest protection for depression at the candidate threshold for testing in HLA genes in the meta-analysis (odds ratio = 0.98, 95% confidence interval = 0.97-0.99).

Conclusions: We found no evidence that an increased risk for depression was conferred by HLA alleles, which play a major role in the genetic susceptibility to autoimmune diseases, or C4 haplotypes, which are strongly associated with schizophrenia. These results suggest that any HLA or C4 variants associated with depression either are rare or have very modest effect sizes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2019.06.031DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7001040PMC
March 2020

Genotype-phenotype feasibility studies on khat abuse, traumatic experiences and psychosis in Ethiopia.

Psychiatr Genet 2020 02;30(1):34-38

Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatics, and Psychotherapy, University of Wuerzburg, Wuerzburg, Germany and.

Studying the relationship between mental illnesses and their environmental and genetic risk factors in low-income countries holds excellent promises. These studies will improve our understanding of how risk factors identified predominantly in high-income countries also apply to other settings and will identify new, sometimes population-specific risk factors. Here we report the successful completion of two intertwined pilot studies on khat abuse, trauma, and psychosis at the Gilgel Gibe Field Research Center in Ethiopia. We found that the Gilgel Gibe Field Research Center offers a unique opportunity to collect well-characterized samples for mental health research and to perform genetic studies that, at this scale, have not been undertaken in Ethiopia yet. We also supported service development, education, and research for strengthening the professional profile of psychiatry at the site.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/YPG.0000000000000242DOI Listing
February 2020

The genetic relationship between educational attainment and cognitive performance in major psychiatric disorders.

Transl Psychiatry 2019 08 28;9(1):210. Epub 2019 Aug 28.

Asklepios Specialized Hospital, Göttingen, 37081, Germany.

Cognitive deficits are a core feature of psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Evidence supports a genome-wide polygenic score (GPS) for educational attainment (GPS) can be used to explain variability in cognitive performance. We aimed to identify different cognitive domains associated with GPS in a transdiagnostic clinical cohort of chronic psychiatric patients with known cognitive deficits. Bipolar and schizophrenia patients from the PsyCourse cohort (N = 730; 43% female) were used. Likewise, we tested whether GPSs for schizophrenia (GPS) and bipolar disorder (GPS) were associated with cognitive outcomes. GPS explained 1.5% of variance in the backward verbal digit span, 1.9% in the number of correctly recalled words of the Verbal Learning and Memory Test, and 1.1% in crystallized intelligence. These effects were robust to the influences of treatment and diagnosis. No significant associations between GPS or GPS with cognitive outcomes were found. Furthermore, these risk scores did not confound the effect of GPS on cognitive outcomes. GPS explains a small fraction of cognitive performance in adults with psychiatric disorders, specifically for domains related to linguistic learning and working memory. Investigating such a proxy-phenotype longitudinally, could give intriguing insight into the disease course, highlighting at what time genes play a more influential role on cognitive performance. Better understanding the origin of these deficits might help identify those patients at risk for lower levels of functioning and poor social outcomes. Polygenic estimates may in the future be part of predictive models for more personalized interventions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-019-0547-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6713703PMC
August 2019

Treatment response classes in major depressive disorder identified by model-based clustering and validated by clinical prediction models.

Transl Psychiatry 2019 08 5;9(1):187. Epub 2019 Aug 5.

Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany.

The identification of generalizable treatment response classes (TRC[s]) in major depressive disorder (MDD) would facilitate comparisons across studies and the development of treatment prediction algorithms. Here, we investigated whether such stable TRCs can be identified and predicted by clinical baseline items. We analyzed data from an observational MDD cohort (Munich Antidepressant Response Signature [MARS] study, N = 1017), treated individually by psychopharmacological and psychotherapeutic means, and a multicenter, partially randomized clinical/pharmacogenomic study (Genome-based Therapeutic Drugs for Depression [GENDEP], N = 809). Symptoms were evaluated up to week 16 (or discharge) in MARS and week 12 in GENDEP. Clustering was performed on 809 MARS patients (discovery sample) using a mixed model with the integrated completed likelihood criterion for the assessment of cluster stability, and validated through a distinct MARS validation sample and GENDEP. A random forest algorithm was used to identify prediction patterns based on 50 clinical baseline items. From the clustering of the MARS discovery sample, seven TRCs emerged ranging from fast and complete response (average 4.9 weeks until discharge, 94% remitted patients) to slow and incomplete response (10% remitted patients at week 16). These proved stable representations of treatment response dynamics in both the MARS and the GENDEP validation sample. TRCs were strongly associated with established response markers, particularly the rate of remitted patients at discharge. TRCs were predictable from clinical items, particularly personality items, life events, episode duration, and specific psychopathological features. Prediction accuracy improved significantly when cluster-derived slopes were modelled instead of individual slopes. In conclusion, model-based clustering identified distinct and clinically meaningful treatment response classes in MDD that proved robust with regard to capturing response profiles of differently designed studies. Response classes were predictable from clinical baseline characteristics. Conceptually, model-based clustering is translatable to any outcome measure and could advance the large-scale integration of studies on treatment efficacy or the neurobiology of treatment response.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41398-019-0524-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6683145PMC
August 2019
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