Structural brain imaging studies offer clues about the effects of the shared genetic etiology among neuropsychiatric disorders

Nevena V. Radonjić, Jonathan L. Hess, Paula Rovira, Ole Andreassen, Jan K. Buitelaar, Christopher R. K. Ching, Barbara Franke, Martine Hoogman, Neda Jahanshad, Carrie McDonald, Lianne Schmaal, Sanjay M. Sisodiya, Dan J. Stein, Odile A. van den Heuvel, Theo G. M. van Erp, Daan van Rooij, Dick J. Veltman, Paul Thompson, Stephen V. Faraone*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Genomewide association studies have found significant genetic correlations among many neuropsychiatric disorders. In contrast, we know much less about the degree to which structural brain alterations are similar among disorders and, if so, the degree to which such similarities have a genetic etiology. From the Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis (ENIGMA) consortium, we acquired standardized mean differences (SMDs) in regional brain volume and cortical thickness between cases and controls. We had data on 41 brain regions for: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), bipolar disorder (BD), epilepsy, major depressive disorder (MDD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and schizophrenia (SCZ). These data had been derived from 24,360 patients and 37,425 controls. The SMDs were significantly correlated between SCZ and BD, OCD, MDD, and ASD. MDD was positively correlated with BD and OCD. BD was positively correlated with OCD and negatively correlated with ADHD. These pairwise correlations among disorders were correlated with the corresponding pairwise correlations among disorders derived from genomewide association studies (r = 0.494). Our results show substantial similarities in sMRI phenotypes among neuropsychiatric disorders and suggest that these similarities are accounted for, in part, by corresponding similarities in common genetic variant architectures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2101-2110
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number6
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

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