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Studying phenotypic and genetic characteristics of age at onset (AAO) and polarity at onset (PAO) in bipolar disorder can provide new insights into disease pathology and facilitate the development of screening tools.
To examine the genetic architecture of AAO and PAO and their association with bipolar disorder disease characteristics.
Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) and polygenic score (PGS) analyses of AAO (n = 12 977) and PAO (n = 6773) were conducted in patients with bipolar disorder from 34 cohorts and a replication sample (n = 2237). The association of onset with disease characteristics was investigated in two of these cohorts.
Earlier AAO was associated with a higher probability of psychotic symptoms, suicidality, lower educational attainment, not living together and fewer episodes. Depressive onset correlated with suicidality and manic onset correlated with delusions and manic episodes. Systematic differences in AAO between cohorts and continents of origin were observed. This was also reflected in single-nucleotide variant-based heritability estimates, with higher heritabilities for stricter onset definitions. Increased PGS for autism spectrum disorder (β = −0.34 years, s.e. = 0.08), major depression (β = −0.34 years, s.e. = 0.08), schizophrenia (β = −0.39 years, s.e. = 0.08), and educational attainment (β = −0.31 years, s.e. = 0.08) were associated with an earlier AAO. The AAO GWAS identified one significant locus, but this finding did not replicate. Neither GWAS nor PGS analyses yielded significant associations with PAO.
AAO and PAO are associated with indicators of bipolar disorder severity. Individuals with an earlier onset show an increased polygenic liability for a broad spectrum of psychiatric traits. Systematic differences in AAO across cohorts, continents and phenotype definitions introduce significant heterogeneity, affecting analyses.
The immune system has been suggested to be associated with neuropsychiatric disorders; for example, elevated levels of cytokines and the inflammation-related transcription factor nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-κB) have been reported in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The aim of this study was to investigate possible associations between autistic-like traits (ALTs) and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in NFKB1 (encoding a subunit of the NF-κB protein complex) and NF-κB inhibitor-like protein 1 (NFKBIL1).
The study was conducted in a cohort from the general population: The Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden (CATSS, n = 12 319, 9–12 years old). The subjects were assessed by the Autism-Tics, ADHD, and Other Comorbidities Inventory. Five SNPs within the two genes were genotyped (NFKBIL1: rs2857605, rs2239707, rs2230365 and rs2071592; NFKB1: rs4648022).
We found significant associations for two SNPs in NFKBIL1: rs2239707 showed a significant distribution of genotype frequencies in the case-control analysis both for all individuals combined and in boys only, and rs2230365 was significantly associated with the ALTs-module language impairment in boys only. Furthermore, we found nominal association in the case-control study for rs2230365, replicating earlier association between this SNP and ASD in an independent genome-wide association study.
The shown associations between polymorphisms in NFKBIL1 and ALTs are supporting an influence of the immune system on neuropsychiatric symptoms.
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