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Female fertility is a complex trait with age-specific changes in spontaneous dizygotic (DZ) twinning and fertility. To elucidate factors regulating female fertility and infertility, we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on mothers of spontaneous DZ twins (MoDZT) versus controls (3273 cases, 24,009 controls). This is a follow-up study to the Australia/New Zealand (ANZ) component of that previously reported (Mbarek et al., 2016), with a sample size almost twice that of the entire discovery sample meta-analysed in the previous article (and five times the ANZ contribution to that), resulting from newly available additional genotyping and representing a significant increase in power. We compare analyses with and without male controls and show unequivocally that it is better to include male controls who have been screened for recent family history, than to use only female controls. Results from the SNP based GWAS identified four genomewide significant signals, including one novel region, ZFPM1 (Zinc Finger Protein, FOG Family Member 1), on chromosome 16. Previous signals near FSHB (Follicle Stimulating Hormone beta subunit) and SMAD3 (SMAD Family Member 3) were also replicated (Mbarek et al., 2016). We also ran the GWAS with a dominance model that identified a further locus ADRB2 on chr 5. These results have been contributed to the International Twinning Genetics Consortium for inclusion in the next GWAS meta-analysis (Mbarek et al., in press).
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common mood disorder, with a heritability of around 34%. Molecular genetic studies made significant progress and identified genetic markers associated with the risk of MDD; however, progress is slowed down by substantial heterogeneity as MDD is assessed differently across international cohorts. Here, we used a standardized online approach to measure MDD in multiple cohorts in the Netherlands and evaluated whether this approach can be used in epidemiological and genetic association studies of depression.
Within the Biobank Netherlands Internet Collaboration (BIONIC) project, we collected MDD data in eight cohorts involving 31 936 participants, using the online Lifetime Depression Assessment Self-report (LIDAS), and estimated the prevalence of current and lifetime MDD in 22 623 unrelated individuals. In a large Netherlands Twin Register (NTR) twin-family dataset (n ≈ 18 000), we estimated the heritability of MDD, and the prediction of MDD in a subset (n = 4782) through Polygenic Risk Score (PRS).
Estimates of current and lifetime MDD prevalence were 6.7% and 18.1%, respectively, in line with population estimates based on validated psychiatric interviews. In the NTR heritability estimates were 0.34/0.30 (s.e. = 0.02/0.02) for current/lifetime MDD, respectively, showing that the LIDAS gives similar heritability rates for MDD as reported in the literature. The PRS predicted risk of MDD (OR 1.23, 95% CI 1.15–1.32, R2 = 1.47%).
By assessing MDD status in the Netherlands using the LIDAS instrument, we were able to confirm previously reported MDD prevalence and heritability estimates, which suggests that this instrument can be used in epidemiological and genetic association studies of depression.
Here we provide an update of the 2013 report on the Nigerian Twin and Sibling Registry (NTSR). The major aim of the NTSR is to understand genetic and environmental influences and their interplay in psychological and mental health development in Nigerian children and adolescents. Africans have the highest twin birth rates among all human populations, and Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. Due to its combination of large population and high twin birth rates, Nigeria has one of the largest twin populations in the world. In this article, we provide current updates on the NTSR samples recruited, recruitment procedures, zygosity assessment and findings emerging from the NTSR.
Twin registries often take part in large collaborative projects and are major contributors to genome-wide association (GWA) meta-analysis studies. In this article, we describe genotyping of twin-family populations from Australia, the Midwestern USA (Avera Twin Register), the Netherlands (Netherlands Twin Register), as well as a sample of mothers of twins from Nigeria to assess the extent, if any, of genetic differences between them. Genotyping in all cohorts was done using a custom-designed Illumina Global Screening Array (GSA), optimized to improve imputation quality for population-specific GWA studies. We investigated the degree of genetic similarity between the populations using several measures of population variation with genotype data generated from the GSA. Visualization of principal component analysis (PCA) revealed that the Australian, Dutch and Midwestern American populations exhibit negligible interpopulation stratification when compared to each other, to a reference European population and to globally distant populations. Estimations of fixation indices (FST values) between the Australian, Midwestern American and Netherlands populations suggest minimal genetic differentiation compared to the estimates between each population and a genetically distinct cohort (i.e., samples from Nigeria genotyped on GSA). Thus, results from this study demonstrate that genotype data from the Australian, Dutch and Midwestern American twin-family populations can be reasonably combined for joint-genetic analysis.
Despite established clinical associations among major depression (MD), alcohol dependence (AD), and alcohol consumption (AC), the nature of the causal relationship between them is not completely understood. We leveraged genome-wide data from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) and UK Biobank to test for the presence of shared genetic mechanisms and causal relationships among MD, AD, and AC.
Linkage disequilibrium score regression and Mendelian randomization (MR) were performed using genome-wide data from the PGC (MD: 135 458 cases and 344 901 controls; AD: 10 206 cases and 28 480 controls) and UK Biobank (AC-frequency: 438 308 individuals; AC-quantity: 307 098 individuals).
Positive genetic correlation was observed between MD and AD (rgMD−AD = + 0.47, P = 6.6 × 10−10). AC-quantity showed positive genetic correlation with both AD (rgAD−AC quantity = + 0.75, P = 1.8 × 10−14) and MD (rgMD−AC quantity = + 0.14, P = 2.9 × 10−7), while there was negative correlation of AC-frequency with MD (rgMD−AC frequency = −0.17, P = 1.5 × 10−10) and a non-significant result with AD. MR analyses confirmed the presence of pleiotropy among these four traits. However, the MD-AD results reflect a mediated-pleiotropy mechanism (i.e. causal relationship) with an effect of MD on AD (beta = 0.28, P = 1.29 × 10−6). There was no evidence for reverse causation.
This study supports a causal role for genetic liability of MD on AD based on genetic datasets including thousands of individuals. Understanding mechanisms underlying MD-AD comorbidity addresses important public health concerns and has the potential to facilitate prevention and intervention efforts.
In 2009, the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) for major depressive disorder (MDD) highlighted an association with PCLO locus on chromosome 7, although not reaching genome-wide significance level. In the present study, we revisited the original GWAS after increasing the overall sample size and the number of interrogated SNPs. In an analysis comparing 1,942 cases with lifetime diagnosis of MDD and 4,565 controls, PCLO showed a genome-wide significant association with MDD at SNP (rs2715157, p = 2.91 × 10−8) and gene-based (p = 1.48 × 10−7) level. Our results confirm the potential role of the PCLO gene in MDD, which is worth further replication and functional studies.
In a recent GWAS of spontaneous dizygotic twinning, Mbarek et al. (The American Journal of Human Genetics, 2016, Vol 98, pp. 898–908) identified two SNPs, rs11031006 (near FSHB) and rs17293443 (in SMAD3). In the present note, we address the question how to present the results in terms of effect sizes in a manner that is comprehensible to the general audience (e.g., mothers of twins, readership of newspapers). We propose to avoid the standard effect sizes such as odds ratios and relative risk as these require some knowledge of probability theory. Rather, we convey the results in terms of the conditional probabilities, but expressed in natural language.
Monozygotic (MZ) twins are genetically identical at conception, making them informative subjects for studies on somatic mutations. Copy number variants (CNVs) are responsible for a substantial part of genetic variation, have relatively high mutation rates, and are likely to be involved in phenotypic variation. We conducted a genome-wide survey for post-twinning de novo CNVs in 1,097 MZ twin pairs. Comparisons between MZ twins were made by CNVs measured in DNA from blood or buccal epithelium with the Affymetrix 6.0 microarray and two calling algorithms. In addition, CNV concordance rates were compared between the different sources of DNA, and gene-enrichment association analyses were conducted for thought problems (TP) and attention problems (AP) using CNVs concordant within MZ pairs. We found a total of 153 putative post-twinning de novo CNVs >100 kb, of which the majority resided in 15q11.2. Based on the discordance of raw intensity signals a selection was made of 20 de novo CNVs for a qPCR validation experiments. Two out of 20 post-twinning de novo CNVs were validated with qPCR in the same twin pair. The 13-year-old MZ twin pair that showed two discordances in CN in 15q11.2 in their buccal DNA did not show large phenotypic differences. From the remaining 18 putative de novo CNVs, 17 were deletions or duplications that were concordant within MZ twin pairs. Concordance rates within twin pairs of CNV calls with CN ≠ 2 were ~80%. Buccal epithelium-derived DNA showed a slightly but significantly higher concordance rate, and blood-derived DNA showed significantly more concordant CNVs per twin pair. The gene-enrichment analyses on concordant CNVs showed no significant associations between CNVs overlapping with genes involved in neuronal processes and TP or AP after accounting for the source of DNA.
Over the past 25 years, the Adult Netherlands Twin Register (ANTR) has collected a wealth of information on physical and mental health, lifestyle, and personality in adolescents and adults. This article provides an overview of the sources of information available, the main research findings, and an outlook for the future. Between 1991 and 2012, longitudinal surveys were completed by twins, their parents, siblings, spouses, and offspring. Data are available for 33,957 participants, with most individuals having completed two or more surveys. Smaller projects provided in-depth phenotyping, including measurements of the autonomic nervous system, neurocognitive function, and brain imaging. For 46% of the ANTR participants, DNA samples are available and whole genome scans have been obtained in more than 11,000 individuals. These data have resulted in numerous studies on heritability, gene x environment interactions, and causality, as well as gene finding studies. In the future, these studies will continue with collection of additional phenotypes, such as metabolomic and telomere length data, and detailed genetic information provided by DNA and RNA sequencing. Record linkage to national registers will allow the study of morbidity and mortality, thus providing insight into the development of health, lifestyle, and behavior across the lifespan.
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