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Transl Psychiatry. 2019 Aug 28;9(1):210. doi: 10.1038/s41398-019-0547-x.

The genetic relationship between educational attainment and cognitive performance in major psychiatric disorders.

Author information

1
Institute of Psychiatric Phenomics and Genomics, University Hospital, LMU Munich, Munich, 80336, Germany. Ashley.Comes@med.uni-muenchen.de.
2
International Max Planck Research School for Translational Psychiatry (IMPRS-TP), Munich, 80804, Germany. Ashley.Comes@med.uni-muenchen.de.
3
Institute of Psychiatric Phenomics and Genomics, University Hospital, LMU Munich, Munich, 80336, Germany.
4
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital, LMU Munich, Munich, 80336, Germany.
5
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Göttingen, Göttingen, 37075, Germany.
6
Department of Neurology, Klinikum rechts der Isar, School of Medicine, Technical University of Munich, Munich, 81675, Germany.
7
International Max Planck Research School for Translational Psychiatry (IMPRS-TP), Munich, 80804, Germany.
8
Department of Psychiatry, Ruhr University Bochum, LWL University Hospital, Bochum, 44791, Germany.
9
Department of Psychiatry, University of Münster, Münster, 48149, Germany.
10
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Bezirkskrankenhaus Augsburg, Augsburg, 86156, Germany.
11
Psychiatrieverbund Oldenburger Land gGmbH, Karl-Jaspers-Klinik, Bad Zwischenahn, 26160, Germany.
12
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistr. 52, Hamburg, 20246, Germany.
13
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapeutic Medicine, Research Unit for Bipolar Affective Disorder, Medical University of Graz, Graz, 8036, Austria.
14
Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Frontheim-Mental Health, Liebenburg, 38704, Germany.
15
Department of Psychiatry, Melbourne Medical School, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, 3010, Australia.
16
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Agaplesion Diakonieklinikum, Rotenburg, 27356, Germany.
17
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, 72076, Germany.
18
Karl-Jaspers Clinic, European Medical School Oldenburg-Groningen, Oldenburg, 26160, Germany.
19
Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Clinical Center Werra-Meißner, Eschwege, 37269, Germany.
20
Asklepios Specialized Hospital, Göttingen, 37081, Germany.
21
Department of Psychiatry II, Ulm University, Bezirkskrankenhaus Günzburg, Günzburg, 89312, Germany.
22
AMEOS Clinical Center Hildesheim, Hildesheim, 31135, Germany.
23
Center für Systems Neuroscience (ZSN) Hannover, Hannover, 30559, Germany.
24
Dept. of Psychiatry, Medical School of Hannover, Hannover, 30625, Germany.
25
Psychiatric Hospital Lüneburg, Lüneburg, 21339, Germany.
26
AMEOS Clinical Center Osnabrück, Osnabrück, 49088, Germany.
27
ASKLEPIOS Specialized Hospital Tiefenbrunn, Rosdorf, 37124, Germany.
28
Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, University Medicine Rostock, Rostock, 18051, Germany.
29
Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Clinical Center Wilhelmshaven, Wilhelmshaven, 26389, Germany.
30
Department of Genetic Epidemiology in Psychiatry, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, 68159, Germany.
31
Institute of Human Genetics, University of Bonn School of Medicine & University Hospital Bonn, Bonn, 53127, Germany.
32
Center for Human Genetics, University of Marburg, Marburg, 35033, Germany.
33
Department of Biomedicine, University of Basel, Basel, 4031, Switzerland.
34
Department of Psychiatry (UPK), University of Basel, Basel, 4002, Switzerland.
35
German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), Göttingen, 37075, Germany.
36
iBiMED, Medical Sciences Department, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, 3810-193, Portugal.

Abstract

Cognitive deficits are a core feature of psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Evidence supports a genome-wide polygenic score (GPS) for educational attainment (GPSEDU) can be used to explain variability in cognitive performance. We aimed to identify different cognitive domains associated with GPSEDU in a transdiagnostic clinical cohort of chronic psychiatric patients with known cognitive deficits. Bipolar and schizophrenia patients from the PsyCourse cohort (N = 730; 43% female) were used. Likewise, we tested whether GPSs for schizophrenia (GPSSZ) and bipolar disorder (GPSBD) were associated with cognitive outcomes. GPSEDU explained 1.5% of variance in the backward verbal digit span, 1.9% in the number of correctly recalled words of the Verbal Learning and Memory Test, and 1.1% in crystallized intelligence. These effects were robust to the influences of treatment and diagnosis. No significant associations between GPSSZ or GPSBD with cognitive outcomes were found. Furthermore, these risk scores did not confound the effect of GPSEDU on cognitive outcomes. GPSEDU explains a small fraction of cognitive performance in adults with psychiatric disorders, specifically for domains related to linguistic learning and working memory. Investigating such a proxy-phenotype longitudinally, could give intriguing insight into the disease course, highlighting at what time genes play a more influential role on cognitive performance. Better understanding the origin of these deficits might help identify those patients at risk for lower levels of functioning and poor social outcomes. Polygenic estimates may in the future be part of predictive models for more personalized interventions.

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