Apr 27, 2020

Dynamics of Brain Structure and its Genetic Architecture over the Lifespan

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Rachel M BrouwerD Grotegerd


Human brain structure changes throughout our lives. Altered brain growth or rates of decline are implicated in a vast range of psychiatric, developmental, and neurodegenerative diseases. While heritable, specific loci in the genome that influence these rates are largely unknown. Here, we sought to find common genetic variants that affect rates of brain growth or atrophy, in the first genome-wide association analysis of longitudinal changes in brain morphology across the lifespan. Longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging data from 10,163 individuals aged 4 to 99 years, on average 3.5 years apart, were used to compute rates of morphological change for 15 brain structures. We discovered 5 genome-wide significant loci and 15 genes associated with brain structural changes. Most individual variants exerted age-dependent effects. All identified genes are expressed in fetal and adult brain tissue, and some exhibit developmentally regulated expression across the lifespan. We demonstrate genetic overlap with depression, schizophrenia, cognitive functioning, height, body mass index and smoking. Several of the discovered loci are implicated in early brain development and point to involvement of metabolic processes. Gene-set findings also im...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Genome-Wide Association Study
Coronary Artery Disease
Dysequilibrium Syndrome
Health Outcomes
Genetic Pleiotropy
Bipolar Disorder

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