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The clinical field of depression and other mood disorders is characterised by the vast heterogeneity between those who present for care, and the highly variable degree of response to the range of psychological, pharmacological and physical treatments currently provided. These individual differences likely have a genetic component, and leveraging genetic risk is appealing because genetic risk factors point to causality. The possibility that individual genotyping at entry to health care may be a key way forward is worthy of discussion (Torkamani et al., 2018).
The recruitment of participants for research studies may be subject to bias. The Prospective Imaging Study of Ageing (PISA) aims to characterize the phenotype and natural history of healthy adult Australians at high future risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Participants approached to take part in PISA were selected from existing cohort studies with available genomewide genetic data for both successfully and unsuccessfully recruited participants, allowing us to investigate the genetic contribution to voluntary recruitment, including the genetic predisposition to AD. We use a polygenic risk score (PRS) approach to test to what extent the genetic risk for AD, and related risk factors predict participation in PISA. We did not identify a significant association of genetic risk for AD with study participation, but we did identify significant associations with PRS for key causal risk factors for AD, IQ, household income and years of education. We also found that older and female participants were more likely to take part in the study. Our findings highlight the importance of considering bias in key risk factors for AD in the recruitment of individuals for cohort studies.
Subthreshold/attenuated syndromes are established precursors of full-threshold mood and psychotic disorders. Less is known about the individual symptoms that may precede the development of subthreshold syndromes and associated social/functional outcomes among emerging adults.
We modeled two dynamic Bayesian networks (DBN) to investigate associations among self-rated phenomenology and personal/lifestyle factors (role impairment, low social support, and alcohol and substance use) across the 19Up and 25Up waves of the Brisbane Longitudinal Twin Study. We examined whether symptoms and personal/lifestyle factors at 19Up were associated with (a) themselves or different items at 25Up, and (b) onset of a depression-like, hypo-manic-like, or psychotic-like subthreshold syndrome (STS) at 25Up.
The first DBN identified 11 items that when endorsed at 19Up were more likely to be reendorsed at 25Up (e.g., hypersomnia, impaired concentration, impaired sleep quality) and seven items that when endorsed at 19Up were associated with different items being endorsed at 25Up (e.g., earlier fatigue and later role impairment; earlier anergia and later somatic pain). In the second DBN, no arcs met our a priori threshold for inclusion. In an exploratory model with no threshold, >20 items at 19Up were associated with progression to an STS at 25Up (with lower statistical confidence); the top five arcs were: feeling threatened by others and a later psychotic-like STS; increased activity and a later hypo-manic-like STS; and anergia, impaired sleep quality, and/or hypersomnia and a later depression-like STS.
These probabilistic models identify symptoms and personal/lifestyle factors that might prove useful targets for indicated preventative strategies.
The ‘16Up’ study conducted at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute from January 2014 to December 2018 aimed to examine the physical and mental health of young Australian twins aged 16−18 years (N = 876; 371 twin pairs and 18 triplet sets). Measurements included online questionnaires covering physical and mental health as well as information and communication technology (ICT) use, actigraphy, sleep diaries and hair samples to determine cortisol concentrations. Study participants generally rated themselves as being in good physical (79%) and mental (73%) health and reported lower rates of psychological distress and exposure to alcohol, tobacco products or other substances than previously reported for this age group in the Australian population. Daily or near-daily online activity was almost universal among study participants, with no differences noted between males and females in terms of frequency or duration of internet access. Patterns of ICT use in this sample indicated that the respondents were more likely to use online information sources for researching physical health issues than for mental health or substance use issues, and that they generally reported partial levels of satisfaction with the mental health information they found online. This suggests that internet-based mental health resources can be readily accessed by adolescent Australians, and their computer literacy augurs well for future access to online health resources. In combination with other data collected as part of the ongoing Brisbane Longitudinal Twin Study, the 16Up project provides a valuable resource for the longitudinal investigation of genetic and environmental contributions to phenotypic variation in a variety of human traits.
The aim of the 25 and Up (25Up) study was to assess a wide range of psychological and behavioral risk factors behind mental illness in a large cohort of Australian twins and their non-twin siblings. Participants had already been studied longitudinally from the age of 12 and most recently in the 19Up study (mean age = 26.1 years, SD = 4.1, range = 20–39). This subsequent wave follows up these twins several years later in life (mean age = 29.7 years, SD = 2.2, range = 22–44). The resulting data set enables additional detailed investigations of genetic pathways underlying psychiatric illnesses in the Brisbane Longitudinal Twin Study (BLTS). Data were collected between 2016 and 2018 from 2540 twins and their non-twin siblings (59% female, including 341 monozygotic complete twin-pairs, 415 dizygotic complete pairs and 1028 non-twin siblings and singletons). Participants were from South-East Queensland, Australia, and the sample was of predominantly European ancestry. The 25Up study collected information on 20 different mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, substance use, psychosis, bipolar and attention-deficit hyper-activity disorder, as well as general demographic information such as occupation, education level, number of children, self-perceived IQ and household environment. In this article, we describe the prevalence, comorbidities and age of onset for all 20 examined disorders. The 25Up study also assessed general and physical health, including physical activity, sleep patterns, eating behaviors, baldness, acne, migraines and allergies, as well as psychosocial items such as suicidality, perceived stress, loneliness, aggression, sleep–wake cycle, sexual identity and preferences, technology and internet use, traumatic life events, gambling and cyberbullying. In addition, 25Up assessed female health traits such as morning sickness, breastfeeding and endometriosis. Furthermore, given that the 25Up study is an extension of previous BLTS studies, 86% of participants have already been genotyped. This rich resource will enable the assessment of epidemiological risk factors, as well as the heritability and genetic correlations of mental conditions.
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