Genome-wide association study of more than 40,000 bipolar disorder cases provides new insights into the underlying biology

HUNT All-In Psychiatry, Niamh Mullins, Andreas J Forstner, Kevin S O'Connell, Brandon Coombes, Jonathan R I Coleman, Zhen Qiao, Thomas D Als, Tim B Bigdeli, Sigrid Børte, Julien Bryois, Alexander W Charney, Ole Kristian Drange, Michael J Gandal, Saskia P Hagenaars, Masashi Ikeda, Nolan Kamitaki, Minsoo Kim, Kristi Krebs, Georgia PanagiotaropoulouBrian M Schilder, Laura G Sloofman, Stacy Steinberg, Vassily Trubetskoy, Bendik S Winsvold, Hong-Hee Won, Liliya Abramova, Kristina Adorjan, Esben Agerbo, Mariam Al Eissa, Diego Albani, Ney Alliey-Rodriguez, Adebayo Anjorin, Verneri Antilla, Anastasia Antoniou, Swapnil Awasthi, Ji Hyun Baek, Marie Bækvad-Hansen, Nicholas Bass, Toni-Kim Clarke, James L Kennedy, Donald J MacIntyre, Derek W Morris, Daniel J Smith, Wei Xu, Hannah Young, Hang Zhou, Douglas H R Blackwood, Nicholas G Martin, Andrew M McIntosh, Patrick F Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Bipolar disorder is a heritable mental illness with complex etiology. We performed a genome-wide association study of 41,917 bipolar disorder cases and 371,549 controls of European ancestry, which identified 64 associated genomic loci. Bipolar disorder risk alleles were enriched in genes in synaptic signaling pathways and brain-expressed genes, particularly those with high specificity of expression in neurons of the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. Significant signal enrichment was found in genes encoding targets of antipsychotics, calcium channel blockers, antiepileptics and anesthetics. Integrating expression quantitative trait locus data implicated 15 genes robustly linked to bipolar disorder via gene expression, encoding druggable targets such as HTR6, MCHR1, DCLK3 and FURIN. Analyses of bipolar disorder subtypes indicated high but imperfect genetic correlation between bipolar disorder type I and II and identified additional associated loci. Together, these results advance our understanding of the biological etiology of bipolar disorder, identify novel therapeutic leads and prioritize genes for functional follow-up studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)817-829
Number of pages19
JournalNature Genetics
Early online date17 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


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