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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.
We summarize some of the past year's most important findings within climate change-related research. New research has improved our understanding about the remaining options to achieve the Paris Agreement goals, through overcoming political barriers to carbon pricing, taking into account non-CO2 factors, a well-designed implementation of demand-side and nature-based solutions, resilience building of ecosystems and the recognition that climate change mitigation costs can be justified by benefits to the health of humans and nature alone. We consider new insights about what to expect if we fail to include a new dimension of fire extremes and the prospect of cascading climate tipping elements.
A synthesis is made of 10 topics within climate research, where there have been significant advances since January 2020. The insights are based on input from an international open call with broad disciplinary scope. Findings include: (1) the options to still keep global warming below 1.5 °C; (2) the impact of non-CO2 factors in global warming; (3) a new dimension of fire extremes forced by climate change; (4) the increasing pressure on interconnected climate tipping elements; (5) the dimensions of climate justice; (6) political challenges impeding the effectiveness of carbon pricing; (7) demand-side solutions as vehicles of climate mitigation; (8) the potentials and caveats of nature-based solutions; (9) how building resilience of marine ecosystems is possible; and (10) that the costs of climate change mitigation policies can be more than justified by the benefits to the health of humans and nature.
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How do we limit global warming to 1.5 °C and why is it crucial? See highlights of latest climate science.
The first demonstration of laser action in ruby was made in 1960 by T. H. Maiman of Hughes Research Laboratories, USA. Many laboratories worldwide began the search for lasers using different materials, operating at different wavelengths. In the UK, academia, industry and the central laboratories took up the challenge from the earliest days to develop these systems for a broad range of applications. This historical review looks at the contribution the UK has made to the advancement of the technology, the development of systems and components and their exploitation over the last 60 years.
Mortality risk is known to be associated with many physiological or biochemical risk factors, and polygenic risk scores (PRSs) may offer an additional or alternative approach to risk stratification. We have compared the predictive value of common biochemical tests, PRSs and information on parental survival in a cohort of twins and their families. Common biochemical test results were available for up to 13,365 apparently healthy men and women, aged 17−93 years (mean 49.0, standard deviation [SD] 13.7) at blood collection. PRSs for longevity were available for 14,169 study participants and reported parental survival for 25,784 participants. A search for information on date and cause of death was conducted through the Australian National Death Index, with median follow-up of 11.3 years. Cox regression was used to evaluate associations with mortality from all causes, cancers, cardiovascular diseases and other causes. Linear relationships with all-cause mortality were strongest for C-reactive protein, gamma-glutamyl transferase, glucose and alkaline phosphatase, with hazard ratios (HRs) of 1.16 (95% CI [1.07, 1.24]), 1.15 (95% CI 1.04–1.21), 1.13 (95% CI [1.08, 1.19]) and 1.11 (95% CI [1.05, 1.88]) per SD difference, respectively. Significant nonlinear effects were found for urea, uric acid and butyrylcholinesterase. Lipid risk factors were not statistically significant for mortality in our cohort. Family history and PRS showed weaker but significant associations with survival, with HR in the range 1.05 to 1.09 per SD difference. In conclusion, biochemical tests currently predict long-term mortality more strongly than genetic scores based on genotyping or on reported parental survival.
Antarctica's ice shelves modulate the grounded ice flow, and weakening of ice shelves due to climate forcing will decrease their ‘buttressing’ effect, causing a response in the grounded ice. While the processes governing ice-shelf weakening are complex, uncertainties in the response of the grounded ice sheet are also difficult to assess. The Antarctic BUttressing Model Intercomparison Project (ABUMIP) compares ice-sheet model responses to decrease in buttressing by investigating the ‘end-member’ scenario of total and sustained loss of ice shelves. Although unrealistic, this scenario enables gauging the sensitivity of an ensemble of 15 ice-sheet models to a total loss of buttressing, hence exhibiting the full potential of marine ice-sheet instability. All models predict that this scenario leads to multi-metre (1–12 m) sea-level rise over 500 years from present day. West Antarctic ice sheet collapse alone leads to a 1.91–5.08 m sea-level rise due to the marine ice-sheet instability. Mass loss rates are a strong function of the sliding/friction law, with plastic laws cause a further destabilization of the Aurora and Wilkes Subglacial Basins, East Antarctica. Improvements to marine ice-sheet models have greatly reduced variability between modelled ice-sheet responses to extreme ice-shelf loss, e.g. compared to the SeaRISE assessments.
The criteria for objective memory impairment in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are vaguely defined. Aggregating the number of abnormal memory scores (NAMS) is one way to operationalise memory impairment, which we hypothesised would predict progression to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia.
As part of the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle Flagship Study of Ageing, 896 older adults who did not have dementia were administered a psychometric battery including three neuropsychological tests of memory, yielding 10 indices of memory. We calculated the number of memory scores corresponding to z ≤ −1.5 (i.e., NAMS) for each participant. Incident diagnosis of AD dementia was established by consensus of an expert panel after 3 years.
Of the 722 (80.6%) participants who were followed up, 54 (7.5%) developed AD dementia. There was a strong correlation between NAMS and probability of developing AD dementia (r = .91, p = .0003). Each abnormal memory score conferred an additional 9.8% risk of progressing to AD dementia. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for NAMS was 0.87 [95% confidence interval (CI) .81–.93, p < .01]. The odds ratio for NAMS was 1.67 (95% CI 1.40–2.01, p < .01) after correcting for age, sex, education, estimated intelligence quotient, subjective memory complaint, Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) score and apolipoprotein E ϵ4 status.
Aggregation of abnormal memory scores may be a useful way of operationalising objective memory impairment, predicting incident AD dementia and providing prognostic stratification for individuals with MCI.
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.
A high prevalence of asthma has been documented among the inhabitants of Tristan da Cunha, an isolated island in the South Atlantic. The population derives from just 28 founders. We performed lung function testing, including methacholine inhalation challenge, allergen skin prick testing, and collected DNA from essentially all of the current island population (269 individuals), and genotyped a panel of 43 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) reported as associated with asthma and atopy. We carried out a mixed-model association analysis using the known pedigree. There were 96 individuals diagnosed as asthmatic (36%), and heritability estimates were similar to those from nonisolated population samples (multifactorial threshold model, h2 = 48%). The first component from a genetic principal components analysis using the entire SNP panel was nonlinearly associated with asthma, with the maximum risk to those intermediate to reference (Human Genome Diversity Project) European and African samples means. The single most strongly associated SNP was rs2786098 (p = 5.5 × 10−5), known to regulate the gene DENND1B. This explained approximately one-third of the trait heritability, with an allelic odds ratio for the A allele of 2.6. Among A/A carriers, 10 out of 12 individuals were asthmatic. The rs2786098*A variant was initially reported to decrease the risk of childhood (atopic) asthma in European but slightly increase the risk in African-descended populations, and does significantly alter Th2 cell function. Despite an absence of overall association with this variant in recent asthma genome wide association studies meta-analyses, an effect may exist on the particular genetic background of the Tristan da Cunha population.
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.
Twin registers are wonderful research resources for research applications in medical and behavioral genetics, epidemiology, psychology, molecular genetics, and other areas of research. New registers continue to be launched all over the world as researchers from different disciplines recognize the potential to boost and widen their research agenda. In this article, we discuss multiple aspects that need to be taken into account when initiating a register, from its preliminary sketch to its actual development. This encompasses aspects related to the strategic planning and key elements of research designs, promotion and management of a twin register, including recruitment and retaining of twins and family members of twins, phenotyping, database organization, and collaborations between registers. We also present information on questions unique to twin registers and twin-biobanks, such as the assessment of zygosity by SNP arrays, the design of (biomarker) studies involving related participants, and the analyses of clustered data. Altogether, we provide a number of basic guidelines and recommendations for reflection when planning a twin register.
Prior research has documented shared heritable contributions to non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and suicidal ideation (SI) as well as NSSI and suicide attempt (SA). In addition, trauma exposure has been implicated in risk for NSSI and suicide. Genetically informative studies are needed to determine common sources of liability to all three self-injurious thoughts and behaviors, and to clarify the nature of their associations with traumatic experiences.
Multivariate biometric modeling was conducted using data from 9526 twins [59% female, mean age = 31.7 years (range 24–42)] from two cohorts of the Australian Twin Registry, some of whom also participated in the Childhood Trauma Study and the Nicotine Addiction Genetics Project.
The prevalences of high-risk trauma exposure (HRT), NSSI, SI, and SA were 24.4, 5.6, 27.1, and 4.6%, respectively. All phenotypes were moderately to highly correlated. Genetic influences on self-injurious thoughts and behaviors and HRT were significant and highly correlated among men [rG = 0.59, 95% confidence interval (CI) (0.37–0.81)] and women [rG = 0.56 (0.49–0.63)]. Unique environmental influences were modestly correlated in women [rE = 0.23 (0.01–0.45)], suggesting that high-risk trauma may confer some direct risk for self-injurious thoughts and behaviors among females.
Individuals engaging in NSSI are at increased risk for suicide, and common heritable factors contribute to these associations. Preventing trauma exposure may help to mitigate risk for self-harm and suicide, either directly or indirectly via reductions in liability to psychopathology more broadly. In addition, targeting pre-existing vulnerability factors could significantly reduce risk for life-threatening behaviors among those who have experienced trauma.
Whether monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins differ from each other in a variety of phenotypes is important for genetic twin modeling and for inferences made from twin studies in general. We analyzed whether there were differences in individual, maternal and paternal education between MZ and DZ twins in a large pooled dataset. Information was gathered on individual education for 218,362 adult twins from 27 twin cohorts (53% females; 39% MZ twins), and on maternal and paternal education for 147,315 and 143,056 twins respectively, from 28 twin cohorts (52% females; 38% MZ twins). Together, we had information on individual or parental education from 42 twin cohorts representing 19 countries. The original education classifications were transformed to education years and analyzed using linear regression models. Overall, MZ males had 0.26 (95% CI [0.21, 0.31]) years and MZ females 0.17 (95% CI [0.12, 0.21]) years longer education than DZ twins. The zygosity difference became smaller in more recent birth cohorts for both males and females. Parental education was somewhat longer for fathers of DZ twins in cohorts born in 1990–1999 (0.16 years, 95% CI [0.08, 0.25]) and 2000 or later (0.11 years, 95% CI [0.00, 0.22]), compared with fathers of MZ twins. The results show that the years of both individual and parental education are largely similar in MZ and DZ twins. We suggest that the socio-economic differences between MZ and DZ twins are so small that inferences based upon genetic modeling of twin data are not affected.
Familial factors have previously been implicated in the etiology of fatigue, of which a significant proportion is likely attributable to genetic influences. However, family studies have primarily focused on chronic fatigue syndrome, while univariate twin studies have investigated broader fatigue phenotypes. The results for similar fatigue phenotypes vary between studies, particularly with regard to sex-specific contributions to the heritability of the traits. Therefore, the current study aims to investigate the familiality and sex-specific effects of fatigue experienced over the past few weeks in an older Australian population of 660 monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs, 190 MZ singleton twins, 593 dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs, and 365 DZ singleton twins. Higher risks for fatigue were observed in MZ compared to DZ co-twins of probands with fatigue. Univariate heritability analyses indicated fatigue has a significant genetic component, with a heritability (h2) estimate of 40%. Sex-specific effects did not significantly contribute to the heritability of fatigue, with similar estimates for males (h2 = 41%, 95% CI [18, 62]) and females (h2 = 40%, 95% CI [27, 52]). These results indicate that fatigue experienced over the past few weeks has a familial contribution, with additive genetic factors playing an important role in its etiology.
One of the typical roles of industrial–organizational (I-O) psychologists working as practitioners is administering employee surveys measuring job satisfaction/engagement. Traditionally, this work has involved developing (or choosing) the items for the survey, administering the items to employees, analyzing the data, and providing stakeholders with summary results (e.g., percentages of positive responses, item means). In recent years, I-O psychologists moved into uncharted territory via the use of survey key driver analysis (SKDA), which aims to identify the most critical items in a survey for action planning purposes. Typically, this analysis involves correlating (or regressing) a self-report criterion item (e.g., “considering everything, how satisfied are you with your job”) with (or on) each of the remaining survey items in an attempt to identify which items are “driving” job satisfaction/engagement. It is also possible to use an index score (i.e., a scale score formed from several items) as the criterion instead of a single item. That the criterion measure (regardless of being a single item or an index) is internal to the survey from which predictors are drawn distinguishes this practice from linkage research. This methodology is not widely covered in survey methodology coursework, and there are few peer-reviewed articles on it. Yet, a number of practitioners are marketing this service to their clients. In this focal article, a group of practitioners with extensive applied survey research experience uncovers several methodological issues with SKDA. Data from a large multiorganizational survey are used to back up claims about these issues. One issue is that SKDA ignores the psychometric reality that item standard deviations impact which items are chosen as drivers. Another issue is that the analysis ignores the factor structure of survey item responses. Furthermore, conducting this analysis each time a survey is administered conflicts with the lack of situational and temporal specificity. Additionally, it is problematic to imply causal relationships from the correlational data seen in most surveys. Most surprisingly, randomly choosing items out of a hat yields validities similar to those from conducting the analysis. Thus, we recommend that survey providers stop conducting SKDA until they can produce science that backs up this practice. These issues, in concert with the lack of literature examining the practice, make rigorous evaluations of SKDA a timely inquiry.
Depression and fatigue have previously been suggested to share an underlying genetic contribution. The present study aims to investigate and characterize the familiality and genetic relationship between depression and fatigue. The familiality of depression and fatigue was assessed by calculating relative risks, measured by the prevalence ratio, within 643 monozygotic (MZ) and 577 dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs. Bivariate twin modeling was utilized to assess the magnitude of shared heritability between depression and fatigue. Finally, the relationship between depression and fatigue was investigated using the co-twin control method, to determine whether the association is explained by causal or non-causal models. We observed an increased risk of fatigue in co-twins of probands with depression and increased risk of depression in co-twins of probands with fatigue. Higher risks were observed in MZ compared to DZ twin pairs, and bivariate heritability analyses indicated significant genetic components for depression and fatigue, with heritability estimates of 48% and 41%, respectively. Importantly, a significant additive genetic correlation of 0.71 [95% CI = 0.51–0.92) and bivariate heritability of 21% [95% CI = 10–35%] was observed between depression and fatigue. Furthermore, results from the co-twin control method indicate a non-causal genetic relationship that likely explains the association between depression and fatigue. Notably, the contribution of shared genetic factors remained significant, independent of the overlapping symptoms, indicating that the relationship between co-occurring depression and fatigue is primarily due to shared genetic factors rather than overlapping symptomatology.
Investigations on the relationship between sweet taste perception and body mass index (BMI) have been inconclusive. Here, we report a longitudinal analysis using a genetically informative sample of 1,576 adolescent Australian twins to explore the relationship between BMI and sweet taste. First, we estimated the phenotypic correlations between perception scores for four different sweet compounds (glucose, fructose, neohesperidine dihydrochalcone (NHDC), and aspartame) and BMI. Then, we computed the association between adolescent taste perception and BMI in early adulthood (reported 9 years later). Finally, we used twin modeling and polygenic risk prediction analysis to investigate the genetic overlap between BMI and sweet taste perception. Our findings revealed that BMI in early adulthood was significantly associated with each of the sweet perception scores, with the strongest correlation observed in aspartame with r = 0.09 (p = .007). However, only limited evidence of association was observed between sweet taste perception and BMI that was measured at the same time (in adolescence), with the strongest evidence of association observed for glucose with a correlation coefficient of r = 0.06 (p = .029) and for aspartame with r = 0.06 (p = .035). We found a significant (p < .05) genetic correlation between glucose and NHDC perception and BMI. Our analyses suggest that sweet taste perception in adolescence can be a potential indicator of BMI in early adulthood. This association is further supported by evidence of genetic overlap between the traits, suggesting that some BMI genes may be acting through biological pathways of taste perception.
The current study examined a stage-based alcohol use trajectory model to test for potential causal effects of earlier drinking milestones on later drinking milestones in a combined sample of two cohorts of Australian monozygotic and same-sex dizygotic twins (N = 7,398, age M = 30.46, SD = 2.61, 61% male, 56% monozygotic twins). Ages of drinking, drunkenness, regular drinking, tolerance, first nontolerance alcohol use disorder symptom, and alcohol use disorder symptom onsets were assessed retrospectively. Ages of milestone attainment (i.e., age-of-onset) and time between milestones (i.e., time-to-event) were examined via frailty models within a multilevel discordant twin design. For age-of-onset models, earlier ages of onset of antecedent drinking milestones increased hazards for earlier ages of onset for more proximal subsequent drinking milestones. For the time-to-event models, however, earlier ages of onset for the “starting” milestone decreased risk for a shorter time period between the starting and the “ending” milestone. Earlier age of onset of intermediate milestones between starting and ending drinking milestones had the opposite effect, increasing risk for a shorter time period between the starting and ending milestones. These results are consistent with a causal effect of an earlier age of drinking milestone onset on temporally proximal subsequent drinking milestones.
Migraine frequently co-occurs with depression. Using a large sample of Australian twin pairs, we aimed to characterize the extent to which shared genetic factors underlie these two disorders. Migraine was classified using three diagnostic measures, including self-reported migraine, the ID migraine™ screening tool, or migraine without aura (MO) and migraine with aura (MA) based on International Headache Society (IHS) diagnostic criteria. Major depressive disorder (MDD) and minor depressive disorder (MiDD) were classified using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria. Univariate and bivariate twin models, with and without sex-limitation, were constructed to estimate the univariate and bivariate variance components and genetic correlation for migraine and depression. The univariate heritability of broad migraine (self-reported, ID migraine, or IHS MO/MA) and broad depression (MiDD or MDD) was estimated at 56% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 53–60%) and 42% (95% CI: 37–46%), respectively. A significant additive genetic correlation (rG = 0.36, 95% CI: 0.29–0.43) and bivariate heritability (h2 = 5.5%, 95% CI: 3.6–7.8%) was observed between broad migraine and depression using the bivariate Cholesky model. Notably, both the bivariate h2 (13.3%, 95% CI: 7.0–24.5%) and rG (0.51, 95% CI: 0.37–0.69) estimates significantly increased when analyzing the more narrow clinically accepted diagnoses of IHS MO/MA and MDD. Our results indicate that for both broad and narrow definitions, the observed comorbidity between migraine and depression can be explained almost entirely by shared underlying genetically determined disease mechanisms.