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Mol Psychiatry. 2011 Sep;16(9):927-37, 881. doi: 10.1038/mp.2011.32. Epub 2011 Apr 19.

Discovery and replication of dopamine-related gene effects on caudate volume in young and elderly populations (N=1198) using genome-wide search.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


The caudate is a subcortical brain structure implicated in many common neurological and psychiatric disorders. To identify specific genes associated with variations in caudate volume, structural magnetic resonance imaging and genome-wide genotypes were acquired from two large cohorts, the Alzheimer's Disease NeuroImaging Initiative (ADNI; N=734) and the Brisbane Adolescent/Young Adult Longitudinal Twin Study (BLTS; N=464). In a preliminary analysis of heritability, around 90% of the variation in caudate volume was due to genetic factors. We then conducted genome-wide association to find common variants that contribute to this relatively high heritability. Replicated genetic association was found for the right caudate volume at single-nucleotide polymorphism rs163030 in the ADNI discovery sample (P=2.36 × 10⁻⁶) and in the BLTS replication sample (P=0.012). This genetic variation accounted for 2.79 and 1.61% of the trait variance, respectively. The peak of association was found in and around two genes, WDR41 and PDE8B, involved in dopamine signaling and development. In addition, a previously identified mutation in PDE8B causes a rare autosomal-dominant type of striatal degeneration. Searching across both samples offers a rigorous way to screen for genes consistently influencing brain structure at different stages of life. Variants identified here may be relevant to common disorders affecting the caudate.

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