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Dissecting clinical heterogeneity of bipolar disorder using multiple polygenic risk scores

By Brandon J Coombes, Matej Markota, J. John Mann, Colin Colby, Eli A. Stahl, Ardesheer Talati, Jyotishman Pathak, Myrna M Weissman, Susan L McElroy, Mark A. Frye, Joanna M. Biernacka

Posted 04 Apr 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.31.20044800

Bipolar disorder (BD) has high clinical heterogeneity, frequent psychiatric comorbidities, and elevated suicide risk. To determine genetic differences between common clinical sub-phenotypes of BD, we performed a systematic PRS analysis using multiple polygenic risk scores (PRSs) from a range of psychiatric, personality, and lifestyle traits to dissect differences in BD sub-phenotypes in two BD cohorts: the Mayo Clinic BD Biobank (N = 968) and Genetic Association Information Network (N = 1001). Participants were assessed for history of psychosis, early-onset BD, rapid cycling (defined as four or more episodes in a year), and suicide attempts using questionnaires and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV. In a combined sample of 1969 bipolar cases (45.5% male), those with psychosis had higher PRS for SCZ (OR = 1.3 per S.D.; p = 3e-5) but lower PRSs for anhedonia (OR = 0.87; p = 0.003) and BMI (OR = 0.87; p = 0.003). Rapid cycling cases had higher PRS for ADHD (OR = 1.23; p = 7e-5) and MDD (OR = 1.23; p = 4e-5) and lower BD PRS (OR = 0.8; p = 0.004). Cases with a suicide attempt had higher PRS for MDD (OR = 1.26; p = 1e-6) and anhedonia (OR = 1.22; p = 2e-5) as well as lower PRS for educational attainment (OR = 0.87; p = 0.003). The observed novel PRS associations with sub-phenotypes align with clinical observations such as rapid cycling BD patients having a greater lifetime prevalence of ADHD. Our findings confirm that genetic heterogeneity underlies the clinical heterogeneity of BD and consideration of genetic contribution to psychopathologic components of psychiatric disorders may improve genetic prediction of complex psychiatric disorders.

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