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The continuity of effect of schizophrenia polygenic risk score and patterns of cannabis use on transdiagnostic symptom dimensions at first-episode psychosis: findings from the EU-GEI study.

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Reininghaus, Ulrich 
Tripoli, Giada 
Ferraro, Laura 


Diagnostic categories do not completely reflect the heterogeneous expression of psychosis. Using data from the EU-GEI study, we evaluated the impact of schizophrenia polygenic risk score (SZ-PRS) and patterns of cannabis use on the transdiagnostic expression of psychosis. We analysed first-episode psychosis patients (FEP) and controls, generating transdiagnostic dimensions of psychotic symptoms and experiences using item response bi-factor modelling. Linear regression was used to test the associations between these dimensions and SZ-PRS, as well as the combined effect of SZ-PRS and cannabis use on the dimensions of positive psychotic symptoms and experiences. We found associations between SZ-PRS and (1) both negative (B = 0.18; 95%CI 0.03-0.33) and positive (B = 0.19; 95%CI 0.03-0.35) symptom dimensions in 617 FEP patients, regardless of their categorical diagnosis; and (2) all the psychotic experience dimensions in 979 controls. We did not observe associations between SZ-PRS and the general and affective dimensions in FEP. Daily and current cannabis use were associated with the positive dimensions in FEP (B = 0.31; 95%CI 0.11-0.52) and in controls (B = 0.26; 95%CI 0.06-0.46), over and above SZ-PRS. We provide evidence that genetic liability to schizophrenia and cannabis use map onto transdiagnostic symptom dimensions, supporting the validity and utility of the dimensional representation of psychosis. In our sample, genetic liability to schizophrenia correlated with more severe psychosis presentation, and cannabis use conferred risk to positive symptomatology beyond the genetic risk. Our findings support the hypothesis that psychotic experiences in the general population have similar genetic substrates as clinical disorders.



Cannabis, Humans, Linear Models, Psychotic Disorders, Risk Factors, Schizophrenia

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Transl Psychiatry

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC


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The EU-GEI Project is funded by the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme under grant agreement No. HEALTH-F2-2010-241909 (Project EU-GEI). The Brazilian study was funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation under grant number 2012/0417-0.