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Using genetic drug-target networks to develop new drug hypotheses for major depressive disorder

By Héléna A. Gaspar, Zachary Gerring, Christopher Hübel, Christel M Middeldorp, Eske M. Derks, Gerome Breen

Posted 18 Apr 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/304113 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41398-019-0451-4)

The major depressive disorder (MDD) working group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) has published a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for MDD in 130,664 cases, identifying 44 risk variants. We used these results to investigate potential drug targets and repurposing opportunities. We built easily interpretable bipartite drug-target networks integrating interactions between drugs and their targets, genome-wide association statistics and genetically predicted expression levels in different tissues, using our online tool Drug Targetor (drugtargetor.com). We also investigated drug-target relationships and drug effects on gene expression that could be impacting MDD. MAGMA was used to perform pathway analyses and S-PrediXcan to investigate the directionality of tissue-specific expression levels in patients vs. controls. Outside the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) region, 25 druggable genes were significantly associated with MDD after multiple testing correction, and 19 were suggestively significant. Several drug classes were significantly enriched, including monoamine reuptake inhibitors, sex hormones, antipsychotics and antihistamines, indicating an effect on MDD and potential repurposing opportunities. These findings require validation in model systems and clinical examination, but also show that GWAS may become a rich source of new therapeutic hypotheses for MDD and other psychiatric disorders that need new - and better - treatment options.

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