Effects of environmental risks and polygenic loading for schizophrenia on cortical thickness

Emma Neilson, Catherine Bois, Jude Gibson, Barbara Duff, Andrew Watson, Neil Roberts, Nicholas J Brandon, John Dunlop, Jeremy Hall, Andrew M McIntosh, Heather C Whalley, Stephen M Lawrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

There are established differences in cortical thickness (CT) in schizophrenia (SCZ) and bipolar (BD) patients when compared to healthy controls (HC). However, it is unknown to what extent environmental or genetic risk factors impact on CT in these populations. We have investigated the effect of Environmental Risk Scores (ERS) and Polygenic Risk Scores for SCZ (PGRS-SCZ) on CT. Structural MRI scans were acquired at 3T for patients with SCZ or BD (n=57) and controls (n=41). Cortical reconstructions were generated in FreeSurfer (v5.3). The ERS was created by determining exposure to cannabis use, childhood adverse events, migration, urbanicity and obstetric complications. The PGRS-SCZ were generated, for a subset of the sample (Patients=43, HC=32), based on the latest PGC GWAS findings. ANCOVAs were used to test the hypotheses that ERS and PGRS-SCZ relate to CT globally, and in frontal and temporal lobes. An increase in ERS was negatively associated with CT within temporal lobe for patients. A higher PGRS-SCZ was also related to global cortical thinning for patients. ERS effects remained significant when including PGRS-SCZ as a fixed effect. No relationship which survived FDR correction was found for ERS and PGRS-SCZ in controls. Environmental risk for SCZ was related to localised cortical thinning in patients with SCZ and BD, while increased PGRS-SCZ was associated with global cortical thinning. Genetic and environmental risk factors for SCZ appear therefore to have differential effects. This provides a mechanistic means by which different risk factors may contribute to the development of SCZ and BD.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Early online date15 Dec 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Dec 2016


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