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High genetic loading for schizophrenia predicts poor response to lithium in patients with bipolar disorder: A polygenic score and cross-trait genetic analysis

By Azmeraw T. Amare, Klaus Oliver Schubert, Liping Hou, Scott R. Clark, Sergi Papiol, Urs Heilbronner, Franziska Degenhardt, Fasil Tekola-Ayele, Yi-Hsiang Hsu, Tatyana Shekhtman, Mazda Adli, Nirmala Akula, Kazufumi Akiyama, Raffaella Ardau, Bárbara Arias, Jean-Michel Aubry, Lena Backlund, Abesh Kumar Bhattacharjee, Frank Bellivier, Antonio Benabarre, Susanne Bengesser, Joanna M Biernacka, Armin Birner, Clara Brichant-Petitjean, Pablo Cervantes, Hsi-Chung y, Caterina Chillotti, Sven Cichon, Cristiana Cruceanu, Piotr M Czerski, Nina Dalkner, Alexandre Dayer, Maria Del Zompo, J. Raymond DePaulo, Bruno Étain, Peter Falkai, Andreas J. Forstner, Louise Frisen, Mark A Frye, Janice M Fullerton, Sébastien Gard, Julie S Garnham, Fernando S. Goes, Maria Grigoroiu-Serbanescu, Paul Grof, Ryota Hashimoto, Joanna Hauser, Stefan Herms, Per Hoffmann, Andrea Hofmann, Stephane Jamain, Esther Jiménez, Jean-Pierre Kahn, Layla Kassem, Po-Hsiu Kuo, Tadafumi Kato, John Kelsoe, Sarah Kittel-Schneider, Sebastian Kliwicki, Barbara König, Ichiro Kusumi, Gonzalo Laje, Mikael Landén, Catharina Lavebratt, Marion Leboyer, Susan G Leckband, Alfonso Tortorella, Mirko Manchia, Lina Martinsson, Michael J. McCarthy, Susan McElroy, Francesc Colom, Marina Mitjans, Francis M Mondimore, Palmiero Monteleone, Caroline M Nievergelt, Markus M Nöthen, Tomas Novák, Claire O’Donovan, Norio Ozaki, Urban Ösby, Andrea Pfennig, James B. Potash, Andreas Reif, Eva Reininghaus, Guy A Rouleau, Janusz K Rybakowski, Martin Schalling, Peter R. Schofield, Barbara W Schweizer, Giovanni Severino, Paul D Shilling, Katzutaka Shimoda, Christian Simhandl, Claire M Slaney, Alessio Squassina, Thomas Stamm, Pavla Stopkova, Mario Maj, Gustavo Turecki, Eduard Vieta, Julia Volkert, Stephanie H. Witt, Adam Wright, Peter P Zandi, Philip B Mitchell, Michael Bauer, Martin Alda, Marcella Rietschel, Thomas G. Schulze, Bernhard Baune, Bernhard T. Baune

Posted 11 Nov 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/209270

Lithium is a first-line mood stabilizer for the maintenance treatment of Bipolar Disorder (BPD). However, the efficacy of lithium varies widely, with a non-response rate of up to 30%. Biological response markers and predictors are lacking. Objective: Genetic factors are thought to mediate lithium treatment response, and the previously reported genetic overlap between BPD and schizophrenia (SCZ) led us to test whether a polygenic score (PGS) for SCZ could predict lithium treatment response in BPD. Further, we explored the potential molecular underpinnings of this association. Design: Weighted SCZ PGSs were computed at ten p-value thresholds (PT) using summary statistics from a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 36,989 SCZ cases, and genotype data for BPD patients from the Consortium on Lithium Genetics (ConLi+Gen). For functional exploration, we performed a cross-trait meta-GWAS and pathway analysis, combining GWAS summary statistics on SCZ and lithium treatment response. Setting: International multicenter GWAS. Participants: Patients with BPD who had undergone lithium treatment were genotyped and retrospectively assessed for long-term treatment response (n=2,586). Main outcome measures: Clinical treatment response to lithium was defined on both the categorical and continuous scales using the ALDA score. The effect measures include odds ratios (ORs) and the proportion of variance explained (R2), and a significant association was determined at p<0.05. Results: The PGS for SCZ was inversely associated with lithium treatment response in the categorical outcome (p=8x10-5), at PT <5x10-2. Patients with BPD who had low polygenic load for SCZ responded better to lithium, with ORs for lithium response ranging from 3.46 [95%CI: 1.42-8.41 at 1st decile] to 2.03 [95%CI: 0.86-4.81 at the 9th decile], compared to the patients in the 10th decile of SCZ risk. In the cross-trait meta-GWAS, 15 genetic loci that may have overlapping effects on lithium treatment response and susceptibility to SCZ were identified. Functional pathway and network analysis of these loci point to the HLA complex and inflammatory cytokines (TNFα, IL-4, IFNγ) as molecular contributors to lithium treatment response in BPD. Conclusions and Relevance: The study provides, for the first-time, evidence for a negative association between high genetic loading for SCZ and poor response to lithium in patients with BPD. These results suggest the potential for translational research aimed at personalized prescribing of lithium.

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