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Friday, December 30, 2011

Genome-Wide Association Study in Bipolar Patients Stratified by Co-Morbidity

Bipolar disorder is a severe psychiatric disorder with high heritability. Co-morbid conditions are common and might define latent subgroups of patients that are more homogeneous with respect to genetic risk factors.

In the Caucasian GAIN bipolar disorder sample of 1000 cases and 1034 controls, we tested the association of single nucleotide polymorphisms with patient subgroups defined by co-morbidity.

Bipolar disorder with psychosis and/or substance abuse in the absence of alcohol dependence was associated with the rare variant rs1039002 in the vicinity of the gene phosphodiesterase 10A (PDE10A) on chromosome 6q27 (p = 1.7×10−8). PDE10A has been implicated in the pathophysiology of psychosis. Antagonists to the encoded protein are currently in clinical testing. Another rare variant, rs12563333 (p = 5.9×10−8) on chromosome 1q41 close to the MAP/microtubule affinity-regulating kinase 1 (MARK1) gene, approached the genome-wide level of significance in this subgroup. Homozygotes for the minor allele were present in cases and absent in controls. Bipolar disorder with alcohol dependence and other co-morbidities was associated with SNP rs2727943 (p = 3.3×10−8) on chromosome 3p26.3 located between the genes contactin-4 precursor (BIG-2) and contactin 6 (CNTN6). All three associations were found under the recessive genetic model. Bipolar disorder with low probability of co-morbid conditions did not show significant associations.

Conceptualizing bipolar disorder as a heterogeneous disorder with regard to co-morbid conditions might facilitate the identification of genetic risk alleles. Rare variants might contribute to the susceptibility to bipolar disorder.

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