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Tobacco smoking remains one of the leading causes of preventable illness and death and is heritable with complex underpinnings. Converging evidence suggests a contribution of the polygenic risk for smoking to the use of tobacco and other substances. Yet, the underlying brain mechanisms between the genetic risk and tobacco smoking remain poorly understood.
Genomic, neuroimaging, and self-report data were acquired from a large cohort of adolescents from the IMAGEN study (a European multicenter study). Polygenic risk scores (PGRS) for smoking were calculated based on a genome-wide association study meta-analysis conducted by the Tobacco and Genetics Consortium. We examined the interrelationships among the genetic risk for smoking initiation, brain structure, and the number of occasions of tobacco use.
A higher smoking PGRS was significantly associated with both an increased number of occasions of tobacco use and smaller cortical volume of the right orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Furthermore, reduced cortical volume within this cluster correlated with greater tobacco use. A subsequent path analysis suggested that the cortical volume within this cluster partially mediated the association between the genetic risk for smoking and the number of occasions of tobacco use.
Our data provide the first evidence for the involvement of the OFC in the relationship between smoking PGRS and tobacco use. Future studies of the molecular mechanisms underlying tobacco smoking should consider the mediation effect of the related neural structure.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have consistently revealed that a variant of microRNA 137 (MIR137) shows a quite significant association with schizophrenia. Identifying the network of genes regulated by MIR137 could provide insights into the biological processes underlying schizophrenia. In addition, DLPFC functional connectivity, a robust correlate of MIR137, may provide plausible endophenotypes. However, the regulatory role of the MIR137 gene network in the disrupted functional connectivity remains unclear. Here, we tested the effects of the MIR137 regulated genes on the risk for schizophrenia and DLPFC functional connectivity.
To evaluate the additive effects of the MIR137 regulated genes (N = 1274), we calculated a MIR137 polygenic risk score (PRS) for schizophrenia and tested its association with the risk for schizophrenia in the genomic data of a Han Chinese population that included schizophrenia patients (N = 589) and normal controls (N = 575). We then investigated the association between MIR137 PRS and DLPFC functional connectivity in two independent young healthy cohorts (N = 356 and N = 314).
We found that the MIR137 PRS successfully captured the differences in genetic structure between the patients and controls, but the single gene MIR137 did not. We then consistently found that a higher MIR137 PRS was correlated with lower functional connectivities between the DLPFC and both the superior parietal cortex and the inferior temporal cortex in two independent cohorts.
The findings suggested that these two functional connectivities of the DLPFC could be important endophenotypes linking the MIR137-regulated genetic structure to schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a complex mental disorder with high heritability and polygenic inheritance. Multimodal neuroimaging studies have also indicated that abnormalities of brain structure and function are a plausible neurobiological characterisation of schizophrenia. However, the polygenic effects of schizophrenia on these imaging endophenotypes have not yet been fully elucidated.
To investigate the effects of polygenic risk for schizophrenia on the brain grey matter volume and functional connectivity, which are disrupted in schizophrenia.
Genomic and neuroimaging data from a large sample of Han Chinese patients with schizophrenia (N = 509) and healthy controls (N = 502) were included in this study. We examined grey matter volume and functional connectivity via structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging, respectively. Using the data from a recent meta-analysis of a genome-wide association study that comprised a large number of Chinese people, we calculated a polygenic risk score (PGRS) for each participant.
The imaging genetic analysis revealed that the individual PGRS showed a significantly negative correlation with the hippocampal grey matter volume and hippocampus–medial prefrontal cortex functional connectivity, both of which were lower in the people with schizophrenia than in the controls. We also found that the observed neuroimaging measures showed weak but similar changes in unaffected first-degree relatives of patients with schizophrenia.
These findings suggested that genetically influenced brain grey matter volume and functional connectivity may provide important clues for understanding the pathological mechanisms of schizophrenia and for the early diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Objective: Functional imaging studies of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have shown an increased activation of posterior cingulate gyrus (PCG) of the brain. The aim of this study was to explore white matter integrity of PCG in PTSD subjects.
Methods: White matter integrity, as determined from fractional anisotropy (FA) value using diffusion tensor imaging, was assessed for PCG in subjects with and without PTSD from a severe mine accident. All subjects were also measured by the PTSD Checklist Civilian Version (PCL-C), the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), the logical memory subtest and the visual reproduction subtest of the Wechsler Memory Scale-Revised in China. Sixteen PTSD subjects (8 subjects in each group) in the longitudinal study and 13 PTSD subjects as well as 14 non-PTSD controls in the cross-sectional case–control study were respectively recruited.
Results: In the longitudinal study, subjects with PTSD showed increased FA values in left PCG during the follow-up scan. In the cross-sectional study, FA values in bilateral PCG in PTSD subjects were higher than controls. Within the PTSD group (n = 13), FA values in the left PCG correlated positively with logical memory and negatively with PCL-C intrusion and STAI-trait (STAI-t) subscores. FA values in right PCG correlated negatively with STAI-t and STAI-state subscores.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that alterations of white matter integrity in PCG link to mnemonic and affective processing in PTSD over the long-term follow-up period.
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