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Genetic Influences on Schizophrenia and Subcortical Brain Volumes: Large-Scale Proof of Concept

By Barbara FrankeJason L. SteinStephan RipkeVerneri AnttilaDerrek P. HibarKimm J. E. van HulzenAlejandro Arias-VasquezJordan W. SmollerThomas E. NicholsMichael C. NealeAndrew M. McIntoshPhil LeeFrancis J. McMahonAndreas Meyer-LindenbergManuel MattheisenOle A. AndreassenOliver GruberPerminder S. SachdevRoberto Roiz-SantiañezAndrew J. SaykinStefan EhrlichKaren A. MatherJessica A. TurnerEmanuel SchwarzAnbupalam Thalamuthu, et al. | Nature Neuroscience | February 1, 2016


Schizophrenia is a devastating psychiatric illness with high heritability. Brain structure and function differ, on average, between people with schizophrenia and healthy individuals. As common genetic associations are emerging for both schizophrenia and brain imaging phenotypes, we can now use genome-wide data to investigate genetic overlap. Here we integrated results from common variant studies of schizophrenia (33,636 cases, 43,008 controls) and volumes of several (mainly subcortical) brain structures (11,840 subjects). We did not find evidence of genetic overlap between schizophrenia risk and subcortical volume measures either at the level of common variant genetic architecture or for single genetic markers. These results provide a proof of concept (albeit based on a limited set of structural brain measures) and define a roadmap for future studies investigating the genetic covariance between structural or functional brain phenotypes and risk for psychiatric disorders.

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