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Papers of the Week

Papers: 17 Jul 2021 - 23 Jul 2021

Human Studies


2021 Jul 17


Dissecting the shared genetic basis of migraine and mental disorders using novel statistical tools.


Bahrami S, Hindley G, Winsvold B S, O'Connell KS, Frei O, Shadrin A, Cheng W, Bettella F, Rødevand L, Odegaard KJ, Fan CC, Pirinen MJ, Hautakangas HM, Headache H A-I, Dale AM, Djurovic S, Smeland OB, Andreassen OA
Brain. 2021 Jul 17.
PMID: 34273149.


Migraine is three times more prevalent in people with bipolar disorder or depression. The relationship between schizophrenia and migraine is less certain although glutamatergic and serotonergic neurotransmission are implicated in both. A shared genetic basis to migraine and mental disorders has been suggested but previous studies have reported weak or non-significant genetic correlations and five shared risk loci. Using the largest samples to date and novel statistical tools, we aimed to determine the extent to which migraine's polygenic architecture overlaps with bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia beyond genetic correlation, and to identify shared genetic loci. Summary statistics from genome-wide association studies were acquired from large-scale consortia for migraine (n cases=59,674; n controls=316,078), bipolar disorder (n cases=20,352; n controls=31,358), depression (n cases=170,756; n controls=328,443) and schizophrenia (n cases=40,675, n controls=64,643). We applied the bivariate causal mixture model to estimate the number of disorder-influencing variants shared between migraine and each mental disorder, and the conditional/conjunctional false discovery rate method to identify shared loci. Loci were functionally characterised to provide biological insights. Univariate MiXeR analysis revealed that migraine was substantially less polygenic (2.8K disorder-influencing variants) compared to mental disorders (8.1K-12.3K disorder-influencing variants). Bivariate analysis estimated that 0.8K (0.3K), 2.1K (SD = 0.1K) and 2.3K (SD = 0.3K) variants were shared between bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia, respectively. There was also extensive overlap with intelligence (1.8K, SD = 0.3K) and educational attainment (2.1K, SD = 0.3K) but not height (1K, SD = 0.1K). We next identified 14 loci jointly associated with migraine and depression and 36 loci jointly associated with migraine and schizophrenia, with evidence of consistent genetic effects in independent samples. No loci were associated with migraine and bipolar disorder. Functional annotation mapped 37 and 298 genes to migraine and each of depression and schizophrenia, respectively, including several novel putative migraine genes such as L3MBTL2, CACNB2, SLC9B1. Gene-set analysis identified several putative gene-sets enriched with mapped genes including transmembrane transport in migraine and schizophrenia. Most migraine-influencing variants were predicted to influence depression and schizophrenia, although a minority of mental disorder-influencing variants were shared with migraine due to the difference in polygenicity. Similar overlap with other brain-related phenotypes suggests this represents a pool of 'pleiotropic' variants which influence vulnerability to diverse brain-related disorders and traits. We also identified specific loci shared between migraine and each of depression and schizophrenia, implicating shared molecular mechanisms and highlighting candidate migraine genes for experimental validation.