Genetic copy number variants, cognition and psychosis: a meta-analysis and a family study

Johan H. Thygesen, Amelia Presman, Jasmine Harju-Seppänen, Haritz Irizar, Rebecca Jones, Karoline Kuchenbaecker, Kuang Lin, Behrooz Z. Alizadeh, Isabelle Austin-Zimmerman, Agna Bartels-Velthuis, Anjali Bhat, Richard Bruggeman, Wiepke Cahn, Stella Calafato, Benedicto Crespo-Facorro, Liewe de Haan, Sonja M.C. de Zwarte, Marta Di Forti, Álvaro Díez-Revuelta, Jeremy HallMei Hua Hall, Conrad Iyegbe, Assen Jablensky, Rene Kahn, Luba Kalaydjieva, Eugenia Kravariti, Stephen Lawrie, Jurjen J. Luykx, Igancio Mata, Colm McDonald, Andrew M. McIntosh, Andrew McQuillin, Rebecca Muir, Roel Ophoff, Marco Picchioni, Diana P. Prata, Siri Ranlund, Dan Rujescu, Bart P.F. Rutten, Katja Schulze, Madiha Shaikh, Frederike Schirmbeck, Claudia J.P. Simons, Timothea Toulopoulou, Therese van Amelsvoort, Neeltje van Haren, Jim van Os, Ruud van Winkel, Evangelos Vassos, Muriel Walshe, Matthias Weisbrod, Eirini Zartaloudi, Vaughan Bell, John Powell, Cathryn M. Lewis, Robin M. Murray, Elvira Bramon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The burden of large and rare copy number genetic variants (CNVs) as well as certain specific CNVs increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. Several cognitive measures are purported schizophrenia endophenotypes and may represent an intermediate point between genetics and the illness. This paper investigates the influence of CNVs on cognition. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature exploring the effect of CNV burden on general intelligence. We included ten primary studies with a total of 18,847 participants and found no evidence of association. In a new psychosis family study, we investigated the effects of CNVs on specific cognitive abilities. We examined the burden of large and rare CNVs (>200 kb, <1% MAF) as well as known schizophrenia-associated CNVs in patients with psychotic disorders, their unaffected relatives and controls (N = 3428) from the Psychosis Endophenotypes International Consortium (PEIC). The carriers of specific schizophrenia-associated CNVs showed poorer performance than non-carriers in immediate (P = 0.0036) and delayed (P = 0.0115) verbal recall. We found suggestive evidence that carriers of schizophrenia-associated CNVs had poorer block design performance (P = 0.0307). We do not find any association between CNV burden and cognition. Our findings show that the known high-risk CNVs are not only associated with schizophrenia and other neurodevelopmental disorders, but are also a contributing factor to impairment in cognitive domains such as memory and perceptual reasoning, and act as intermediate biomarkers of disease risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5307-5319
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Issue number9
Early online date27 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements We would like to thank all the patients, relatives and controls who took part in this research, as well as the clinical staff who facilitated their involvement. This work was supported by the Medical Research Council (G0901310) and the Wellcome Trust (grants 085475/B/08/Z, 085475/Z/08/Z). We thank the UCL Computer Science Cluster team for their excellent IT support. This study was supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University College London and by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust at King’s College London. Further support to EB: Mental Health Research UK’s John Grace QC award, BMA Margaret Temple grants 2016 and 2006, MRC—Korean Health Industry Development Institute Partnering Award (MC_PC_16014), MRC New Investigator Award and a MRC Centenary Award (G0901310), National Institute of Health Research UK post-doctoral fellowship, the Psychiatry Research Trust, the Schizophrenia Research Fund, the Brain and Behaviour Research foundation’s NARSAD Young Investigator Awards 2005, 2008, Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellowship, the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at UCLH, and the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Institute of Psychiatry King’s College London. Further support to co-authors: The Brain and Behaviour Research foundation’s (NARSAD’s) Young Investigator Award (Grant 22604, awarded to CI). The BMA Margaret Temple grant 2016 to JT. A 2014 European Research Council Marie Curie award to A Díez-Revuelta. HI has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 747429. A Medical Research Council doctoral studentship to JH-S, IA-Z and AB. A Mental Health Research UK studentship to RM. VB is supported by a Wellcome Trust Seed Award in Science (200589/Z/16/Z). FWO Senior Clinical Fellowship to RvW. The infrastructure for the GROUP consortium is funded through the Geestkracht programme of the Dutch Health Research Council (ZON-MW, grant number 10-000-1001), and matching funds from participating pharmaceutical companies (Lund-beck, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Janssen Cilag) and universities and mental health care organisations (Amsterdam: Academic Psychiatric Centre of the Academic Medical Centre and the mental health institutions: GGZ Ingeest, Arkin, Dijk en Duin, GGZ Rivierduinen, Erasmus Medical Centre, GGZ Noord Holland Noord. Groningen: University Medical Centre Groningen and the mental health institutions: Lentis, GGZ Friesland, GGZ Drenthe, Dimence, Mediant, GGNet Warnsveld, Yulius Dordrecht and Parnassia psycho-medical centre The Hague. Maastricht: Maastricht University Medical Centre and the mental health institutions: GGZ Eindhoven en De Kempen, GGZ Breburg, GGZ Oost-Brabant, Vincent van Gogh voor Geestelijke Gezondheid, Mondriaan, Virenze riagg, Zuyderland GGZ, MET ggz, Universitair Centrum Sint-Jozef Kortenberg, CAPRI University of Antwerp, PC Ziekeren Sint-Truiden, PZ Sancta Maria Sint-Truiden, GGZ Overpelt, OPZ Rekem. Utrecht: University Medical Centre Utrecht and the mental health institutions Altrecht, GGZ Centraal and Delta). The Santander cohort was supported by Instituto de Salud Carlos III (PI020499, PI050427, PI060507), SENY Fundació (CI 2005-0308007), Fundacion Ramón Areces and Fundacion Marqués de Valdecilla (API07/011, API10/13). We thank Valdecilla Biobank for providing the biological PAFIP samples and associated data included in this study and for its help in the technical execution of this work; we also thank IDIVAL Neuroimaging Unit for its help in the acquisition and processing of imaging PAFIP data.

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