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Inflammation plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD). This study aimed to examine whether the dysregulation of complement components contributes to brain structural defects in patients with mood disorders.
A total of 52 BD patients, 35 MDD patients, and 53 controls were recruited. The human complement immunology assay was used to measure the levels of complement factors. Whole brain-based analysis was performed to investigate differences in gray matter volume (GMV) and cortical thickness (CT) among the BD, MDD, and control groups, and relationships were explored between neuroanatomical differences and levels of complement components.
GMV in the medial orbital frontal cortex (mOFC) and middle cingulum was lower in both patient groups than in controls, while the CT of the left precentral gyrus and left superior frontal gyrus were affected differently in the two disorders. Concentrations of C1q, C4, factor B, factor H, and properdin were higher in both patient groups than in controls, while concentrations of C3, C4 and factor H were significantly higher in BD than in MDD. Concentrations of C1q, factor H, and properdin showed a significant negative correlation with GMV in the mOFC at the voxel-wise level.
BD and MDD are associated with shared and different alterations in levels of complement factors and structural impairment in the brain. Structural defects in mOFC may be associated with elevated levels of certain complement factors, providing insight into the shared neuro-inflammatory pathogenesis of mood disorders.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a leading cause of disability worldwide and influenced by both environmental and genetic factors. Genetic studies of MDD have focused on common variants and have been constrained by the heterogeneity of clinical symptoms.
We sequenced the exome of 77 cases and 245 controls of Han Chinese ancestry and scanned their brain. Burden tests of rare variants were performed first to explore the association between genes/pathways and MDD. Secondly, parallel Independent Component Analysis was conducted to investigate genetic underpinnings of gray matter volume (GMV) changes of MDD.
Two genes (CSMD1, p = 5.32×10−6; CNTNAP5, p = 1.32×10−6) and one pathway (Neuroactive Ligand Receptor Interactive, p = 1.29×10−5) achieved significance in burden test. In addition, we identified one pair of imaging-genetic components of significant correlation (r = 0.38, p = 9.92×10−6). The imaging component reflected decreased GMV in cases and correlated with intelligence quotient (IQ). IQ mediated the effects of GMV on MDD. The genetic component enriched in two gene sets, namely Singling by G-protein coupled receptors [false discovery rate (FDR) q = 3.23×10−4) and Alzheimer Disease Up (FDR q = 6.12×10−4).
Both rare variants analysis and imaging–genetic analysis found evidence corresponding with the neuroinflammation and synaptic plasticity hypotheses of MDD. The mediation of IQ indicates that genetic component may act on MDD through GMV alteration and cognitive impairment.
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