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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010 Feb;67(2):168-77. doi: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2009.184.

Neurocognitive endophenotypes for bipolar disorder identified in multiplex multigenerational families.

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Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center, Whitehall Research Building, Institute of Living, Hartford, CT 06106, USA.



Although genetic influences on bipolar disorder are well established, localization of genes that predispose to the illness has proven difficult. Given that genes predisposing to bipolar disorder may be transmitted without expression of the categorical clinical phenotype, a strategy for identifying risk genes is to identify and map quantitative intermediate phenotypes or endophenotypes.


To adjudicate neurocognitive endophenotypes for bipolar disorder.


All participants underwent diagnostic interviews and comprehensive neurocognitive evaluations. Neurocognitive measures found to be heritable were entered into analyses designed to determine which test results are impaired in affected individuals, are sensitive to the genetic liability for the illness, and are genetically correlated with affection status.


Central valley of Costa Rica; Mexico City, Mexico; and San Antonio, Texas.


Seven hundred nine Latino individuals participated in the study. Of these, 660 were members of extended pedigrees with at least 2 siblings diagnosed as having bipolar disorder (n = 230). The remaining subjects were community control subjects drawn from each site who did not have a personal or family history of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.


Neurocognitive test performance.


Two of the 22 neurocognitive variables were not significantly heritable and were excluded from subsequent analyses. Patients with bipolar disorder were impaired on 6 cognitive measures compared with nonrelated healthy controls. Nonbipolar first-degree relatives were impaired on 5 of these, and the following 3 tests were genetically correlated with affection status: Digit Symbol Coding Task, Object Delayed Response Task, and immediate facial memory.


This large-scale extended pedigree study of cognitive functioning in bipolar disorder identifies measures of processing speed, working memory, and declarative (facial) memory as candidate endophenotypes for bipolar disorder.

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