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Bipolar disorder is a complex neuropsychiatric disorder presenting with episodic mood disturbances. In this study we use a transcriptomic imputation approach to identify novel genes and pathways associated with bipolar disorder, as well as three diagnostically and genetically distinct subtypes. Transcriptomic imputation approaches leverage well-curated and publicly available eQTL reference panels to create gene-expression prediction models, which may then be applied to impute genetically regulated gene expression (GREX) in large GWAS datasets. By testing for association between phenotype and GREX, rather than genotype, we hope to identify more biologically interpretable associations, and thus elucidate more of the genetic architecture of bipolar disorder. We applied GREX prediction models for 13 brain regions (derived from CommonMind Consortium and GTEx eQTL reference panels) to 21,488 bipolar cases and 54,303 matched controls, constituting the largest transcriptomic imputation study of bipolar disorder (BPD) to date. Additionally, we analyzed three specific BPD subtypes, including 14,938 individuals with subtype 1 (BD-I), 3,543 individuals with subtype 2 (BD-II), and 1,500 individuals with schizoaffective subtype (SAB). We identified 125 gene-tissue associations with BPD, of which 53 represent independent associations after FINEMAP analysis. 29/53 associations were novel; i.e., did not lie within 1Mb of a locus identified in the recent PGC-BD GWAS. We identified 37 independent BD-I gene-tissue associations (10 novel), 2 BD-II associations, and 2 SAB associations. Our BPD, BD-I and BD-II associations were significantly more likely to be differentially expressed in post-mortem brain tissue of BPD, BD-I and BD-II cases than we might expect by chance. Together with our pathway analysis, our results support long-standing hypotheses about bipolar disorder risk, including a role for oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction, the post-synaptic density, and an enrichment of circadian rhythm and clock genes within our results.

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