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Schizophrenia (SZ), bipolar disorder (BD) and depression (D) run in families. This susceptibility is partly due to hundreds or thousands of common genetic variants, each conferring a fractional risk. The cumulative effects of the associated variants can be summarised as a polygenic risk score (PRS). Using data from the EUropean Network of national schizophrenia networks studying Gene-Environment Interactions (EU-GEI) first episode case–control study, we aimed to test whether PRSs for three major psychiatric disorders (SZ, BD, D) and for intelligent quotient (IQ) as a neurodevelopmental proxy, can discriminate affective psychosis (AP) from schizophrenia-spectrum disorder (SSD).
Participants (842 cases, 1284 controls) from 16 European EU-GEI sites were successfully genotyped following standard quality control procedures. The sample was stratified based on genomic ancestry and analyses were done only on the subsample representing the European population (573 cases, 1005 controls). Using PRS for SZ, BD, D, and IQ built from the latest available summary statistics, we performed simple or multinomial logistic regression models adjusted for 10 principal components for the different clinical comparisons.
In case–control comparisons PRS-SZ, PRS-BD and PRS-D distributed differentially across psychotic subcategories. In case–case comparisons, both PRS-SZ [odds ratio (OR) = 0.7, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.54–0.92] and PRS-D (OR = 1.31, 95% CI 1.06–1.61) differentiated AP from SSD; and within AP categories, only PRS-SZ differentiated BD from psychotic depression (OR = 2.14, 95% CI 1.23–3.74).
Combining PRS for severe psychiatric disorders in prediction models for psychosis phenotypes can increase discriminative ability and improve our understanding of these phenotypes. Our results point towards the potential usefulness of PRSs in specific populations such as high-risk or early psychosis phases.
A history of childhood adversity is associated with psychotic disorder, with an increase in risk according to the number of exposures. However, it is not known why only some exposed individuals go on to develop psychosis. One possibility is pre-existing polygenic vulnerability. Here, we investigated, in the largest sample of first-episode psychosis (FEP) cases to date, whether childhood adversity and high polygenic risk scores for schizophrenia (SZ-PRS) combine synergistically to increase the risk of psychosis, over and above the effect of each alone.
We assigned a schizophrenia-polygenic risk score (SZ-PRS), calculated from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC2), to all participants in a sample of 384 FEP patients and 690 controls from the case–control component of the EU-GEI study. Only participants of European ancestry were included in the study. A history of childhood adversity was collected using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ). Synergistic effects were estimated using the interaction contrast ratio (ICR) [odds ratio (OR)exposure and PRS − ORexposure − ORPRS + 1] with adjustment for potential confounders.
There was some evidence that the combined effect of childhood adversities and polygenic risk was greater than the sum of each alone, as indicated by an ICR greater than zero [i.e. ICR 1.28, 95% confidence interval (CI) −1.29 to 3.85]. Examining subtypes of childhood adversities, the strongest synergetic effect was observed for physical abuse (ICR 6.25, 95% CI −6.25 to 20.88).
Our findings suggest possible synergistic effects of genetic liability and childhood adversity experiences in the onset of FEP, but larger samples are needed to increase precision of estimates.
The ‘jumping to conclusions’ (JTC) bias is associated with both psychosis and general cognition but their relationship is unclear. In this study, we set out to clarify the relationship between the JTC bias, IQ, psychosis and polygenic liability to schizophrenia and IQ.
A total of 817 first episode psychosis patients and 1294 population-based controls completed assessments of general intelligence (IQ), and JTC, and provided blood or saliva samples from which we extracted DNA and computed polygenic risk scores for IQ and schizophrenia.
The estimated proportion of the total effect of case/control differences on JTC mediated by IQ was 79%. Schizophrenia polygenic risk score was non-significantly associated with a higher number of beads drawn (B = 0.47, 95% CI −0.21 to 1.16, p = 0.17); whereas IQ PRS (B = 0.51, 95% CI 0.25–0.76, p < 0.001) significantly predicted the number of beads drawn, and was thus associated with reduced JTC bias. The JTC was more strongly associated with the higher level of psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) in controls, including after controlling for IQ (B = −1.7, 95% CI −2.8 to −0.5, p = 0.006), but did not relate to delusions in patients.
Our findings suggest that the JTC reasoning bias in psychosis might not be a specific cognitive deficit but rather a manifestation or consequence, of general cognitive impairment. Whereas, in the general population, the JTC bias is related to PLEs, independent of IQ. The work has the potential to inform interventions targeting cognitive biases in early psychosis.