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Genetic overlap between schizophrenia and developmental psychopathology: a longitudinal approach applied to common childhood disorders between age 7 and 15 years

By Michel G. Nivard, Suzanne H. Gage, Jouke J. Hottenga, Catherina E.M. van Beijsterveldt, Abdel Abdellaoui, Bart M.L. Baselmans, lannie ligthart, Beate St Pourcain, Dorret I Boomsma, Marcus M. MunafoĆ², Christel M. Middeldorp

Posted 11 May 2016
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/052829

Various non-psychotic psychiatric disorders in childhood and adolescence can precede the onset of schizophrenia, but the nature of this relationship remains unclear. We investigated to what extent the association between schizophrenia and psychiatric disorders in childhood is explained by shared genetic risk factors. Polygenic risk scores (PRS), reflecting an individual's genetic risk for schizophrenia, were constructed for participants in two birth cohorts (2,588 children from the Netherlands Twin Register (NTR) and 6,127 from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents And Children (ALSPAC)). The associations between schizophrenia PRS and measures of anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and oppositional defiant disorder/conduct disorder (ODD/CD) were estimated at age 7, 10, 12/13 and 15 years in the two cohorts. Results were then meta-analyzed, and age-effects and differences in the associations between disorders and PRS were formally tested in a meta-regression. The schizophrenia PRS was associated with childhood and adolescent psychopathology Where the association was weaker for ODD/CD at age 7. The associations increased with age this increase was steepest for ADHD and ODD/CD. The results are consistent with a common genetic etiology of schizophrenia and developmental psychopathology as well as with a stronger shared genetic etiology between schizophrenia and adolescent onset psychopathology. A multivariate meta-analysis of multiple and repeated observations enabled to optimally use the longitudinal data across diagnoses in order to provide knowledge on how childhood disorders develop into severe adult psychiatric disorders.

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