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The etiology of depression remains poorly understood. Changes in blood lipid levels were reported to be associated with depression and suicide, however study findings were mixed.
We performed a two-sample Mendelian randomisation (MR) analysis to investigate the causal relationship between blood lipids and depression phenotypes, based on large-scale GWAS summary statistics (N = 188 577/480 359 for lipid/depression traits respectively). Five depression-related phenotypes were included, namely major depression (MD; from PGC), depressive symptoms (DS; from SSGAC), longest duration and number of episodes of low mood, and history of deliberate self-harm (DSH)/suicide (from UK Biobank). MR was conducted with inverse-variance weighted (MR-IVW), Egger and Generalised Summary-data-based MR (GSMR) methods.
There was consistent evidence that triglyceride (TG) is causally associated with DS (MR-IVW β for one-s.d. increase in TG = 0.0346, 95% CI 0.0114–0.0578), supported by MR-IVW and GSMR and multiple r2 clumping thresholds. We also observed relatively consistent associations of TG with DSH/suicide (MR-Egger OR = 2.514, CI 1.579–4.003). There was moderate evidence for positive associations of TG with MD and the number of episodes of low mood. For HDL-c, we observed moderate evidence for causal associations with DS and MD. LDL-c and TC did not show robust causal relationships with depression phenotypes, except for weak evidence that LDL-c is inversely related to DSH/suicide. We did not detect significant associations when depression phenotypes were treated as exposures.
This study provides evidence to a causal relationship between TG, and to a lesser extent, altered cholesterol levels with depression phenotypes. Further studies on its mechanistic basis and the effects of lipid-lowering therapies are warranted.
Depression and anxiety disorders (AD) are the first and sixth leading causes of disability worldwide. Despite their high prevalence and significant disability resulted, there are limited advances in new drug development. Recently, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have greatly advanced our understanding of the genetic basis underlying psychiatric disorders.
Here we employed gene-set analyses of GWAS summary statistics for drug repositioning. We explored five related GWAS datasets, including two on major depressive disorder (MDD2018 and MDD-CONVERGE, with the latter focusing on severe melancholic depression), one on AD, and two on depressive symptoms and neuroticism in the population. We extracted gene-sets associated with each drug from DSigDB and examined their association with each GWAS phenotype. We also performed repositioning analyses on meta-analyzed GWAS data, integrating evidence from all related phenotypes.
Importantly, we showed that the repositioning hits are generally enriched for known psychiatric medications or those considered in clinical trials. Enrichment was seen for antidepressants and anxiolytics but also for antipsychotics. We also revealed new candidates or drug classes for repositioning, some of which were supported by experimental or clinical studies. For example, the top repositioning hit using meta-analyzed p values was fendiline, which was shown to produce antidepressant-like effects in mouse models by inhibition of acid sphingomyelinase.
Taken together, our findings suggest that human genomic data such as GWAS are useful in guiding drug discoveries for depression and AD.
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