Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common illness accompanied by considerable morbidity, mortality, costs, and heightened risk of suicide. We conducted a genome-wide association (GWA) meta-analysis based in 135,458 cases and 344,901 control, We identified 44 independent and significant loci. The genetic findings were associated with clinical features of major depression, and implicated brain regions exhibiting anatomical differences in cases. Targets of antidepressant medications and genes involved in gene splicing were enriched for smaller association signal. We found important relations of genetic risk for major depression with educational attainment, body mass, and schizophrenia: lower educational attainment and higher body mass were putatively causal whereas major depression and schizophrenia reflected a partly shared biological etiology. All humans carry lesser or greater numbers of genetic risk factors for major depression. These findings help refine and define the basis of major depression and imply a continuous measure of risk underlies the clinical phenotype.
The neuro-anatomical substrates of major depressive disorder (MDD) are still not well understood, despite many neuroimaging studies over the past few decades. Here we present the largest ever worldwide study by the ENIGMA (Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis) Major Depressive Disorder Working Group on cortical structural alterations in MDD. Structural T1-weighted brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans from 2148 MDD patients and 7957 healthy controls were analysed with harmonized protocols at 20 sites around the world. To detect consistent effects of MDD and its modulators on cortical thickness and surface area estimates derived from MRI, statistical effects from sites were meta-analysed separately for adults and adolescents. Adults with MDD had thinner cortical gray matter than controls in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), anterior and posterior cingulate, insula and temporal lobes (Cohen's d effect sizes: −0.10 to −0.14). These effects were most pronounced in first episode and adult-onset patients (>21 years). Compared to matched controls, adolescents with MDD had lower total surface area (but no differences in cortical thickness) and regional reductions in frontal regions (medial OFC and superior frontal gyrus) and primary and higher-order visual, somatosensory and motor areas (d: −0.26 to −0.57). The strongest effects were found in recurrent adolescent patients. This highly powered global effort to identify consistent brain abnormalities showed widespread cortical alterations in MDD patients as compared to controls and suggests that MDD may impact brain structure in a highly dynamic way, with different patterns of alterations at different stages of life.
12The cerebral cortex underlies our complex cognitive capabilities, yet we know little about the specific genetic loci influencing human cortical structure. To identify genetic variants, including structural variants, impacting cortical structure, we conducted a genome-wide association meta-analysis of brain MRI data from 51,662 individuals. We analysed the surface area and average thickness of the whole cortex and 34 regions with known functional specialisations. We identified 255 nominally significant loci (P ≤ 5 x 10 -8 ); 199 survived multiple testing correction (P ≤ 8.3 x 10 -10 ; 187 surface area; 12 thickness). We found significant enrichment for loci influencing total surface area within regulatory elements active during prenatal cortical development, supporting the radial unit hypothesis. Loci impacting regional surface area cluster near genes in Wnt signalling pathways, known to influence progenitor expansion and areal identity. Variation in cortical structure is genetically correlated with cognitive function, Parkinson's disease, insomnia, depression and ADHD.One Sentence Summary: Common genetic variation is associated with inter-individual variation in the structure of the human cortex, both globally and within specific regions, and is shared with genetic risk factors for some neuropsychiatric disorders.The human cerebral cortex is the outer grey matter layer of the brain, which is implicated in multiple aspects of higher cognitive function. Its distinct folding pattern is characterised by convex (gyral) and concave (sulcal) regions. Computational brain mapping approaches use the consistent folding patterns across individual cortices to label brain regions(1). During fetal development excitatory neurons, the predominant neuronal cell-type in the cortex, are generated from neural progenitor cells in the developing germinal zone(2). The radial unit hypothesis(3) posits that the expansion of cortical surface area (SA) is driven by the proliferation of these neural progenitor cells, whereas thickness (TH) is determined by the number of neurogenic divisions. Variation in global and regional measures of cortical SA and TH are associated with neuropsychiatric disorders and psychological traits(4) ( Table S1). Twin and family-based brain imaging studies show that SA and TH measurements are highly heritable and are largely influenced by independent genetic factors(5). Despite extensive studies of genes impacting cortical structure in model organisms (6), our current understanding of genetic variation impacting human cortical size and patterning is limited to rare, highly penetrant variants (7,8). These variants often disrupt cortical development, leading to altered post-natal structure. However, little is known about how common genetic variants impact human cortical SA and TH.To address this, we conducted genome-wide association meta-analyses of cortical SA and TH measures in 51,662 individuals from 60 cohorts from around the world (Tables S2-S4). Cortical measures were extracted from structural brain MRI scan...
The cerebral cortex underlies our complex cognitive capabilities, yet little is known about the specific genetic loci that influence human cortical structure. To identify genetic variants that affect cortical structure, we conducted a genome-wide association meta-analysis of brain magnetic resonance imaging data from 51,665 individuals. We analyzed the surface area and average thickness of the whole cortex and 34 regions with known functional specializations. We identified 199 significant loci and found significant enrichment for loci influencing total surface area within regulatory elements that are active during prenatal cortical development, supporting the radial unit hypothesis. Loci that affect regional surface area cluster near genes in Wnt signaling pathways, which influence progenitor expansion and areal identity. Variation in cortical structure is genetically correlated with cognitive function, Parkinson’s disease, insomnia, depression, neuroticism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with an increased risk of brain atrophy, aging-related diseases, and mortality. We examined potential advanced brain aging in adult MDD patients, and whether this process is associated with clinical characteristics in a large multicenter international dataset. We performed a mega-analysis by pooling brain measures derived from T1-weighted MRI scans from 19 samples worldwide. Healthy brain aging was estimated by predicting chronological age (18-75 years) from 7 subcortical volumes, 34 cortical thickness and 34 surface area, lateral ventricles and total intracranial volume measures separately in 952 male and 1236 female controls from the ENIGMA MDD working group. The learned model coefficients were applied to 927 male controls and 986 depressed males, and 1199 female controls and 1689 depressed females to obtain independent unbiased brain-based age predictions. The difference between predicted "brain age" and chronological age was calculated to indicate brain-predicted age difference (brain-PAD). On average, MDD patients showed a higher brain-PAD of +1.08 (SE 0.22) years (Cohen's d = 0.14, 95% CI: 0.08-0.20) compared with controls. However, this difference did not seem to be driven by specific clinical characteristics (recurrent status, remission status, antidepressant medication use, age of onset, or symptom severity). This highly powered collaborative effort showed subtle patterns of age-related structural brain abnormalities in MDD. Substantial within-group variance and overlap between groups were observed. Longitudinal studies of MDD and somatic health outcomes are needed to further assess the clinical value of these brain-PAD estimates.
Alterations in white matter (WM) microstructure have been implicated in the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD). However, previous findings have been inconsistent, partially due to low statistical power and the heterogeneity of depression. In the largest multi-site study to date, we examined WM anisotropy and diffusivity in 1305 MDD patients and 1602 healthy controls (age range 12-88 years) from 20 samples worldwide, which included both adults and adolescents, within the MDD Working Group of the Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis (ENIGMA) consortium. Processing of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data and statistical analyses were harmonized across sites and effects were meta-analyzed across studies. We observed subtle, but widespread, lower fractional anisotropy (FA) in adult MDD patients compared with controls in 16 out of 25 WM tracts of interest (Cohen's d between 0.12 and 0.26). The largest differences were observed in the corpus callosum and corona radiata. Widespread higher radial diffusivity (RD) was also observed (all Cohen's d between 0.12 and 0.18). Findings appeared to be driven by patients with recurrent MDD and an adult age of onset of depression. White matter microstructural differences in a smaller sample of adolescent MDD patients and controls did not survive correction for multiple testing. In this coordinated and harmonized multisite DTI study, we showed subtle, but widespread differences in WM microstructure in adult MDD, which may suggest structural disconnectivity in MDD.
Neuroticism is a personality trait of fundamental importance for psychological well-being and public health. It is strongly associated with major depressive disorder (MDD) and several other psychiatric conditions. Although neuroticism is heritable, attempts to identify the alleles involved in previous studies have been limited by relatively small sample sizes. Here we report a combined meta-analysis of genome-wide association study (GWAS) of neuroticism that includes 91 370 participants from the UK Biobank cohort, 6659 participants from the Generation Scotland: Scottish Family Health Study (GS:SFHS) and 8687 participants from a QIMR (Queensland Institute of Medical Research) Berghofer Medical Research Institute (QIMR) cohort. All participants were assessed using the same neuroticism instrument, the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire-Revised (EPQ-R-S) Short Form's Neuroticism scale. We found a single-nucleotide polymorphism-based heritability estimate for neuroticism of ∼15% (s.e.=0.7%). Meta-analysis identified nine novel loci associated with neuroticism. The strongest evidence for association was at a locus on chromosome 8 (P=1.5 × 10−15) spanning 4 Mb and containing at least 36 genes. Other associated loci included interesting candidate genes on chromosome 1 (GRIK3 (glutamate receptor ionotropic kainate 3)), chromosome 4 (KLHL2 (Kelch-like protein 2)), chromosome 17 (CRHR1 (corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor 1) and MAPT (microtubule-associated protein Tau)) and on chromosome 18 (CELF4 (CUGBP elav-like family member 4)). We found no evidence for genetic differences in the common allelic architecture of neuroticism by sex. By comparing our findings with those of the Psychiatric Genetics Consortia, we identified a strong genetic correlation between neuroticism and MDD and a less strong but significant genetic correlation with schizophrenia, although not with bipolar disorder. Polygenic risk scores derived from the primary UK Biobank sample captured ∼1% of the variance in neuroticism in the GS:SFHS and QIMR samples, although most of the genome-wide significant alleles identified within a UK Biobank-only GWAS of neuroticism were not independently replicated within these cohorts. The identification of nine novel neuroticism-associated loci will drive forward future work on the neurobiology of neuroticism and related phenotypes.
A key objective in the field of translational psychiatry over the past few decades has been to identify the brain correlates of major depressive disorder (MDD). Identifying measurable indicators of brain processes associated with MDD could facilitate the detection of individuals at risk, and the development of novel treatments, the monitoring of treatment effects, and predicting who might benefit most from treatments that target specific brain mechanisms. However, despite intensive neuroimaging research towards this effort, underpowered studies and a lack of reproducible findings have hindered progress. Here, we discuss the work of the ENIGMA Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) Consortium, which was established to address issues of poor replication, unreliable results, and overestimation of effect sizes in previous studies. The ENIGMA MDD Consortium currently includes data from 45 MDD study cohorts from 14 countries across six continents. The primary aim of ENIGMA MDD is to identify structural and functional brain alterations associated with MDD that can be reliably detected and replicated across cohorts worldwide. A secondary goal is to investigate how demographic, genetic, clinical, psychological, and environmental factors affect these associations. In this review, we summarize findings of the ENIGMA MDD disease working group to date and discuss future directions. We also highlight the challenges and benefits of largescale data sharing for mental health research.
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