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The course of Bipolar Disorder (BD) is highly variable, with marked inter and intra-individual differences in symptoms and functioning. In this study, we identified illness trajectories across major clinical domains that could have etiological, prognostic, and therapeutic relevance.
Using the Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder (STEP-BD) study, we performed univariate and multivariate trajectory modeling of depressive symptoms, manic symptoms, and psychosocial functioning. Multinomial regression was performed to identify baseline variables associated with poor outcome trajectories.
Depressive symptoms predominated, with most subjects being found in trajectories characterized by various degrees of depressive symptoms and 13% of subjects being classified in a poor outcome ‘persistently depressed’ trajectory. Most subjects experienced few manic symptoms, although approximately 10% of subjects followed a trajectory of persistently manic symptoms. Trajectory analysis of psychosocial functioning showed impairment in most of the sample, with little improvement during follow up. Multi-trajectory analyses highlighted significant impairment in subjects with persistently mixed and persistently depressed trajectories of illness. In general, poor outcome trajectories were marked by lower educational attainment, higher unemployment and disability, and a greater likelihood of adverse clinical features (rapid cycling and suicide attempts) and comorbid diagnoses (anxiety disorders, PTSD, and substance abuse/dependence disorders).
Subjects with BD can be classified into several trajectories of clinically relevant domains that are prognostically relevant and show differing degrees of associations with a broad range of negative clinical risk factors. The highest level of psychosocial disability was found in subjects with chronic mixed and depressive symptoms, who show limited improvement despite guideline-based treatment.
Response to lithium in patients with bipolar disorder is associated with clinical and transdiagnostic genetic factors. The predictive combination of these variables might help clinicians better predict which patients will respond to lithium treatment.
To use a combination of transdiagnostic genetic and clinical factors to predict lithium response in patients with bipolar disorder.
This study utilised genetic and clinical data (n = 1034) collected as part of the International Consortium on Lithium Genetics (ConLi+Gen) project. Polygenic risk scores (PRS) were computed for schizophrenia and major depressive disorder, and then combined with clinical variables using a cross-validated machine-learning regression approach. Unimodal, multimodal and genetically stratified models were trained and validated using ridge, elastic net and random forest regression on 692 patients with bipolar disorder from ten study sites using leave-site-out cross-validation. All models were then tested on an independent test set of 342 patients. The best performing models were then tested in a classification framework.
The best performing linear model explained 5.1% (P = 0.0001) of variance in lithium response and was composed of clinical variables, PRS variables and interaction terms between them. The best performing non-linear model used only clinical variables and explained 8.1% (P = 0.0001) of variance in lithium response. A priori genomic stratification improved non-linear model performance to 13.7% (P = 0.0001) and improved the binary classification of lithium response. This model stratified patients based on their meta-polygenic loadings for major depressive disorder and schizophrenia and was then trained using clinical data.
Using PRS to first stratify patients genetically and then train machine-learning models with clinical predictors led to large improvements in lithium response prediction. When used with other PRS and biological markers in the future this approach may help inform which patients are most likely to respond to lithium treatment.
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.
Although accurate differentiation between bipolar disorder (BD) and unipolar major depressive disorder (MDD) has important prognostic and therapeutic implications, the distinction is often challenging based on clinical grounds alone. In this study, we tested whether psychiatric polygenic risk scores (PRSs) improve clinically based classification models of BD v. MDD diagnosis.
Our sample included 843 BD and 930 MDD subjects similarly genotyped and phenotyped using the same standardized interview. We performed multivariate modeling and receiver operating characteristic analysis, testing the incremental effect of PRSs on a baseline model with clinical symptoms and features known to associate with BD compared with MDD status.
We found a strong association between a BD diagnosis and PRSs drawn from BD (R2 = 3.5%, p = 4.94 × 10−12) and schizophrenia (R2 = 3.2%, p = 5.71 × 10−11) genome-wide association meta-analyses. Individuals with top decile BD PRS had a significantly increased risk for BD v. MDD compared with those in the lowest decile (odds ratio 3.39, confidence interval 2.19–5.25). PRSs discriminated BD v. MDD to a degree comparable with many individual symptoms and clinical features previously shown to associate with BD. When compared with the full composite model with all symptoms and clinical features PRSs provided modestly improved discriminatory ability (ΔC = 0.011, p = 6.48 × 10−4).
Our study demonstrates that psychiatric PRSs provide modest independent discrimination between BD and MDD cases, suggesting that PRSs could ultimately have utility in subjects at the extremes of the distribution and/or subjects for whom clinical symptoms are poorly measured or yet to manifest.
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