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Genomic Prediction of Depression Risk and Resilience Under Stress

By Yu Fang, Laura Scott, Peter Song, Margit Burmeister, Srijan Sen

Posted 04 Apr 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/599456 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41562-019-0759-3)

Advancing our ability to predict who is likely to develop depression in response to stress holds great potential in reducing the burden of the disorder. Large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of depression have, for the first time, provided a basis for meaningful depression polygenic risk score construction (MDD-PRS). The Intern Health Study utilizes the predictable and large increase in depression with physician training stress to identify predictors of depression. Applying the MDD-PRS derived from the PGC2/23andMe GWAS to 5,227 training physicians, we found that MDD-PRS predicted depression under training stress (beta=0.082, p=2.1x10-12) and that MDD-PRS was significantly more strongly associated with depression under stress than at baseline (MDD-PRS x stress interaction - beta=0.029, p=0.02). While known risk factors accounted for 85.6% of the association between MDD-PRS and depression at baseline, they only accounted for 55.4% of the association between MDD-PRS and depression under stress, suggesting that MDD-PRS can add unique predictive power to existing models of depression under stress. Further, we found that low MDD-PRS may have particular utility in identifying individuals with high resilience. Together, these findings suggest that polygenic risk score holds promise in furthering our ability to predict vulnerability and resilience under stress.

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