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Papers of the Week

Papers: 26 Nov 2022 - 2 Dec 2022

Human Studies

2022 Nov 29

Hum Genet

Investigating the shared genetic architecture and causal relationship between pain and neuropsychiatric disorders.


Pain often occurs in parallel with neuropsychiatric disorders. However, the underlying mechanisms and potential causality have not been well studied. We collected the genome-wide association study (GWAS) summary statistics of 26 common pain and neuropsychiatric disorders with sample size ranging from 17,310 to 482,730 in European population. The genetic correlation between pair of pain and neuropsychiatric disorders, as well as the relevant cell types were investigated by linkage disequilibrium (LD) score regression analyses. Then, transcriptome-wide association study (TWAS) was applied to identify the potential shared genes by integrating the gene expression information and GWAS. In addition, Mendelian randomization (MR) analyses were conducted to infer the potential causality between pain and neuropsychiatric disorders. Among the 169 pairwise pain and neuropsychiatric disorders, 55 pairs showed positive correlations (median r = 0.43) and 9 pairs showed negative correlations (median r =  -0.31). Using MR analyses, 26 likely causal associations were identified, including that neuroticism and insomnia were risk factors for most of short-term pain, and multisite chronic pain was risk factor for neuroticism, insomnia, major depressive disorder and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and vice versa. The signals of pain and neuropsychiatric disorders tended to be enriched in the functional regions of cell types from central nervous system (CNS). A total of 19 genes shared in at least one pain and neuropsychiatric disorder pair were identified by TWAS, including AMT, NCOA6, and UNC45A, which involved in glycine degradation, insulin secretion, and cell proliferation, respectively. Our findings provided the evidence of shared genetic structure, causality and potential shared pathogenic mechanisms between pain and neuropsychiatric disorders, and enhanced our understanding of the comorbidities of pain and neuropsychiatric disorders.