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Nearly one in five children with CHD is born with white matter injury that can be recognised on postnatal MRI by the presence of T1 hyperintense lesions. This pattern of white matter injury is known to portend poor neurodevelopmental outcomes, but the exact aetiology and histologic characterisation of these lesions have never been described. A fetal sheep was cannulated at gestational age 110 days onto a pumpless extracorporeal oxygenator via the umbilical vessels and supported in a fluid environment for 14.5 days. The fetus was supported under hypoxic conditions (mean oxygen delivery 16 ml/kg/day) to simulate the in utero conditions of CHD. At necropsy, the brain was fixed, imaged with MRI, and then stained to histologically identify areas of injury. Under hypoxemic in utero conditions, the fetus developed a T1 hyperintense lesion in its right frontal lobe. Histologically, this lesion was characterised by microvascular proliferation and astrocytosis without gliosis. These findings may provide valuable insight into the aetiology of white matter injury in neonates with CHD.
Smoking prevalence is higher amongst individuals with schizophrenia and depression compared with the general population. Mendelian randomisation (MR) can examine whether this association is causal using genetic variants identified in genome-wide association studies (GWAS).
We conducted two-sample MR to explore the bi-directional effects of smoking on schizophrenia and depression. For smoking behaviour, we used (1) smoking initiation GWAS from the GSCAN consortium and (2) we conducted our own GWAS of lifetime smoking behaviour (which captures smoking duration, heaviness and cessation) in a sample of 462690 individuals from the UK Biobank. We validated this instrument using positive control outcomes (e.g. lung cancer). For schizophrenia and depression we used GWAS from the PGC consortium.
There was strong evidence to suggest smoking is a risk factor for both schizophrenia (odds ratio (OR) 2.27, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.67–3.08, p < 0.001) and depression (OR 1.99, 95% CI 1.71–2.32, p < 0.001). Results were consistent across both lifetime smoking and smoking initiation. We found some evidence that genetic liability to depression increases smoking (β = 0.091, 95% CI 0.027–0.155, p = 0.005) but evidence was mixed for schizophrenia (β = 0.022, 95% CI 0.005–0.038, p = 0.009) with very weak evidence for an effect on smoking initiation.
These findings suggest that the association between smoking, schizophrenia and depression is due, at least in part, to a causal effect of smoking, providing further evidence for the detrimental consequences of smoking on mental health.
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