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Evidence for Shared Genetic Aetiology between Schizophrenia, Cardiometabolic and Inflammation Related Traits: Genetic Correlation and Colocalization Analyses

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Perry, Benjamin 
Bowker, Nicholas 
Wareham, Nicholas J  ORCID logo
Upthegrove, Rachel 


Background Schizophrenia commonly co-occurs with cardiometabolic and inflammation-related traits. It is unclear to what extent the comorbidity could be explained by shared genetic aetiology.

Methods We used GWAS data to estimate shared genetic aetiology between schizophrenia, cardiometabolic and inflammation-related traits: fasting insulin (FI), fasting glucose, glycated haemoglobin, glucose tolerance, type 2 diabetes (T2D), lipids, body mass index (BMI), coronary artery disease (CAD), and C-reactive protein (CRP). We examined genome-wide correlation using linkage disequilibrium score regression (LDSC); stratified by minor-allele frequency using genetic covariance analyzer (GNOVA); then refined to locus-level using heritability estimation from summary statistics (ρ-HESS). Regions with local correlation were used in hypothesis prioritization multi-trait colocalization to examine for colocalisation, implying common genetic aetiology.

Results We found evidence for weak genome-wide negative correlation of schizophrenia with T2D (rg=-0.07; 95% C.I., -0.03,0.12; p=0.002) and BMI (rg=-0.09; 95% C.I., -0.06,-0.12; p=1.83x10-5). We found a trend of evidence for positive genetic correlation between schizophrenia and cardiometabolic traits confined to lower-frequency variants. This was underpinned by 85 regions of locus-level correlation with evidence of opposing mechanisms. Ten loci showed strong evidence of colocalization. Four of those (rs6265 (BDNF); rs8192675 (SLC2A2); rs3800229 (FOXO3); rs17514846 (FURIN)) are implicated in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)-related pathways.

Conclusions LDSC may lead to downwardly-biased genetic correlation estimates between schizophrenia, cardiometabolic and inflammation-related traits. Common genetic aetiology for these traits could be confined to lower-frequency common variants and involve opposing mechanisms. Genes related to BDNF and glucose transport amongst others may partly explain the comorbidity between schizophrenia and cardiometabolic disorders.


Funder: MQ: Transforming Mental Health; Grant(s): MQDS17/40


cardiometabolic disorders, colocalization, common aetiology, correlation, genetic, schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia Bulletin Open

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Oxford University Press (OUP)
Department of Health (via National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)) (DRF-2018-11-ST2-018)
Wellcome Trust (201486/Z/16/Z)
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) (via Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) (RP PG-0616-20003)
Medical Research Council (MC_PC_17213)
MQ: Transforming Mental Health (MQDS17\40)
MRC (MC_UU_00006/1)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00002/7)
Wellcome Trust (204623/Z/16/Z)
Medical Research Council (MR/S037675/1)