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Transcriptional signatures of schizophrenia in hiPSC-derived NPCs and neurons are concordant with signatures from post mortem adult brains

By Gabriel E Hoffman, Brigham J. Hartley, Erin Flaherty, Ian Ladran, Peter Gochman, Douglas M Ruderfer, Eli Stahl, Judith Rapoport, Pamela Sklar, Kristen J. Brennand

Posted 07 Sep 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/185546 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02330-5)

Whereas highly penetrant variants have proven well-suited to human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-based models, the power of hiPSC-based studies to resolve the much smaller effects of common variants within the size of cohorts that can be realistically assembled remains uncertain. In developing a large case/control schizophrenia (SZ) hiPSC-derived cohort of neural progenitor cells and neurons, we identified and accounted for a variety of technical and biological sources of variation. Reducing the stochastic effects of the differentiation process by correcting for cell type composition boosted the SZ signal in hiPSC-based models and increased the concordance with post mortem datasets. Because this concordance was strongest in hiPSC-neurons, it suggests that this cell type may better model genetic risk for SZ. We predict a growing convergence between hiPSC and post mortem studies as both approaches expand to larger cohort sizes. For studies of complex genetic disorders, to maximize the power of hiPSC cohorts currently feasible, in most cases and whenever possible, we recommend expanding the number of individuals even at the expense of the number of replicate hiPSC clones.

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