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Shared molecular neuropathology across major psychiatric disorders parallels polygenic overlap

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Science  09 Feb 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6376, pp. 693-697
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad6469

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Genes overlap across psychiatric disease

Many genome-wide studies have examined genes associated with a range of neuropsychiatric disorders. However, the degree to which the genetic underpinnings of these diseases differ or overlap is unknown. Gandal et al. performed meta-analyses of transcriptomic studies covering five major psychiatric disorders and compared cases and controls to identify coexpressed gene modules. From this, they found that some psychiatric disorders share global gene expression patterns. This overlap in polygenic traits in neuropsychiatric disorders may allow for better diagnosis and treatment.

Science, this issue p. 693

Abstract

The predisposition to neuropsychiatric disease involves a complex, polygenic, and pleiotropic genetic architecture. However, little is known about how genetic variants impart brain dysfunction or pathology. We used transcriptomic profiling as a quantitative readout of molecular brain-based phenotypes across five major psychiatric disorders—autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and alcoholism—compared with matched controls. We identified patterns of shared and distinct gene-expression perturbations across these conditions. The degree of sharing of transcriptional dysregulation is related to polygenic (single-nucleotide polymorphism–based) overlap across disorders, suggesting a substantial causal genetic component. This comprehensive systems-level view of the neurobiological architecture of major neuropsychiatric illness demonstrates pathways of molecular convergence and specificity.

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