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Spatial gene-by-environment mapping for schizophrenia reveals locale of upbringing effects beyond urban-rural differences

By Chun Chieh Fan, John J. McGrath, Vivek Appadurai, Alfonso Buil, Michael J. Gandal, Andrew J Schork, Preben Bo Mortensen, Esben Agerbo, Sandy A. Geschwind, Daniel Geschwind, Thomas Werge, Wesley K. Thompson, Carsten Bøcker Pedersen

Posted 11 May 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/315820

Identification of mechanisms underlying the incidence of psychiatric disorders has been hampered by the difficulty in discovering highly-predictive environmental risk factors. For example, prior efforts have failed to establish environmental effects predicting geospatial clustering of schizophrenia incidence beyond urban-rural differences. Here, we employ a novel statistical framework for decomposing the geospatial risk for schizophrenia based on locale of upbringing (place of residence, ages 0-7 years) and its synergistic effects with genetic liabilities (polygenic risk for schizophrenia). We use this statistical framework to analyze unprecedented geolocation and genotyping data in a case-cohort study of n=24,028 subjects, drawn from the 1.47 million Danish persons born between 1981 and 2005. Using this framework we estimate the effects of upbringing locale (E) and gene-by-locale interactions (GxE). After controlling for potential confounding variables, upbringing at high-risk locales increases the risk for schizophrenia on average by 122%, while GxE modulates genetic risk for schizophrenia on average by 78%. Within the boundaries of Copenhagen (the largest and most densely populated city of Denmark) specific locales vary substantially in their E and GxE effects, with hazard ratios ranging from 0.26 to 9.26 for E and from 0.20 to 5.95 for GxE. This study provides insight into the degree of geospatial clustering of schizophrenia risk, and our novel analytic procedure provides a framework for decomposing variation in geospatial risk into G, E, and GxE components.

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