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People with bipolar disorder (BPD) are more likely to die prematurely, which is partly attributed to comorbid cardiometabolic traits. Previous studies report cardiometabolic abnormalities in BPD, but their shared aetiology remains poorly understood. This study examined the phenotypic associations and shared genetic aetiology between BPD and various cardiometabolic traits.
In a subset of the UK Biobank sample (N = 61 508) we investigated phenotypic associations between BPD (ncases = 4186) and cardiometabolic traits, represented by biomarkers, anthropometric traits and cardiometabolic diseases. To determine shared genetic aetiology in European ancestry, polygenic risk scores (PRS) and genetic correlations were calculated between BPD and cardiometabolic traits.
Several traits were significantly associated with increased risk for BPD, namely low total cholesterol, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high triglycerides, high glycated haemoglobin, low systolic blood pressure, high body mass index, high waist-to-hip ratio; and stroke, coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes diagnosis. BPD was associated with higher polygenic risk for triglycerides, waist-to-hip ratio, coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes. Shared genetic aetiology persisted for coronary artery disease, when correcting PRS associations for cardiometabolic base phenotypes. Associations were not replicated using genetic correlations.
This large study identified increased phenotypic cardiometabolic abnormalities in BPD participants. It is found that the comorbidity of coronary artery disease may be based on shared genetic aetiology. These results motivate hypothesis-driven research to consider individual cardiometabolic traits rather than a composite metabolic syndrome when attempting to disentangle driving mechanisms of cardiometabolic abnormalities in BPD.
Depression is a highly prevalent and heterogeneous disorder. This study aims to determine whether depression with atypical features shows different heritability and different degree of overlap with polygenic risk for psychiatric and immuno-metabolic traits than other depression subgroups.
Data included 30 069 European ancestry individuals from the UK Biobank who met criteria for lifetime major depression. Participants reporting both weight gain and hypersomnia were classified as ↑WS depression (N = 1854) and the others as non-↑WS depression (N = 28 215). Cases with non-↑WS depression were further classified as ↓WS depression (i.e. weight loss and insomnia; N = 10 142). Polygenic risk scores (PRS) for 22 traits were generated using genome-wide summary statistics (Bonferroni corrected p = 2.1 × 10−4). Single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-based heritability of depression subgroups was estimated.
↑WS depression had a higher polygenic risk for BMI [OR = 1.20 (1.15–1.26), p = 2.37 × 10−14] and C-reactive protein [OR = 1.11 (1.06–1.17), p = 8.86 × 10−06] v. non-↑WS depression and ↓WS depression. Leptin PRS was close to the significance threshold (p = 2.99 × 10−04), but the effect disappeared when considering GWAS summary statistics of leptin adjusted for BMI. PRS for daily alcohol use was inversely associated with ↑WS depression [OR = 0.88 (0.83–0.93), p = 1.04 × 10−05] v. non-↑WS depression. SNP-based heritability was not significantly different between ↑WS depression and ↓WS depression (14.3% and 12.2%, respectively).
↑WS depression shows evidence of distinct genetic predisposition to immune-metabolic traits and alcohol consumption. These genetic signals suggest that biological targets including immune-cardio-metabolic pathways may be relevant to therapies in individuals with ↑WS depression.
Major depression (MD) is often characterised as a categorical disorder; however, observational studies comparing sub-threshold and clinical depression suggest MD is continuous. Many of these studies do not explore the full continuum and are yet to consider genetics as a risk factor. This study sought to understand if polygenic risk for MD could provide insight into the continuous nature of depression.
Factor analysis on symptom-level data from the UK Biobank (N = 148 957) was used to derive continuous depression phenotypes which were tested for association with polygenic risk scores (PRS) for a categorical definition of MD (N = 119 692).
Confirmatory factor analysis showed a five-factor hierarchical model, incorporating 15 of the original 18 items taken from the PHQ-9, GAD-7 and subjective well-being questionnaires, produced good fit to the observed covariance matrix (CFI = 0.992, TLI = 0.99, RMSEA = 0.038, SRMR = 0.031). MD PRS associated with each factor score (standardised β range: 0.057–0.064) and the association remained when the sample was stratified into case- and control-only subsets. The case-only subset had an increased association compared to controls for all factors, shown via a significant interaction between lifetime MD diagnosis and MD PRS (p value range: 2.23 × 10−3–3.94 × 10−7).
An association between MD PRS and a continuous phenotype of depressive symptoms in case- and control-only subsets provides support against a purely categorical phenotype; indicating further insights into MD can be obtained when this within-group variation is considered. The stronger association within cases suggests this variation may be of particular importance.
Higher health literacy is associated with higher cognitive function and better health. Despite its wide use in medical research, no study has investigated the genetic contributions to health literacy. Using 5783 English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) participants (mean age = 65.49, SD = 9.55) who had genotyping data and had completed a health literacy test at wave 2 (2004–2005), we carried out a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of health literacy. We estimated the proportion of variance in health literacy explained by all common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Polygenic profile scores were calculated using summary statistics from GWAS of 21 cognitive and health measures. Logistic regression was used to test whether polygenic scores for cognitive and health-related traits were associated with having adequate, compared to limited, health literacy. No SNPs achieved genome-wide significance for association with health literacy. The proportion of variance in health literacy accounted for by common SNPs was 8.5% (SE = 7.2%). Greater odds of having adequate health literacy were associated with a 1 standard deviation higher polygenic score for general cognitive ability [OR = 1.34, 95% CI (1.26, 1.42)], verbal-numerical reasoning [OR = 1.30, 95% CI (1.23, 1.39)], and years of schooling [OR = 1.29, 95% CI (1.21, 1.36)]. Reduced odds of having adequate health literacy were associated with higher polygenic profiles for poorer self-rated health [OR = 0.92, 95% CI (0.87, 0.98)] and schizophrenia [OR = 0.91, 95% CI (0.85, 0.96)). The well-documented associations between health literacy, cognitive function and health may partly be due to shared genetic etiology. Larger studies are required to obtain accurate estimates of SNP-based heritability and to discover specific health literacy-associated genetic variants.
Approximately half of the variation in wellbeing measures overlaps with variation in personality traits. Studies of non-human primate pedigrees and human twins suggest that this is due to common genetic influences. We tested whether personality polygenic scores for the NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) domains and for item response theory (IRT) derived extraversion and neuroticism scores predict variance in wellbeing measures. Polygenic scores were based on published genome-wide association (GWA) results in over 17,000 individuals for the NEO-FFI and in over 63,000 for the IRT extraversion and neuroticism traits. The NEO-FFI polygenic scores were used to predict life satisfaction in 7 cohorts, positive affect in 12 cohorts, and general wellbeing in 1 cohort (maximal N = 46,508). Meta-analysis of these results showed no significant association between NEO-FFI personality polygenic scores and the wellbeing measures. IRT extraversion and neuroticism polygenic scores were used to predict life satisfaction and positive affect in almost 37,000 individuals from UK Biobank. Significant positive associations (effect sizes <0.05%) were observed between the extraversion polygenic score and wellbeing measures, and a negative association was observed between the polygenic neuroticism score and life satisfaction. Furthermore, using GWA data, genetic correlations of -0.49 and -0.55 were estimated between neuroticism with life satisfaction and positive affect, respectively. The moderate genetic correlation between neuroticism and wellbeing is in line with twin research showing that genetic influences on wellbeing are also shared with other independent personality domains.
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