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Front Cell Dev Biol


Aim: Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) analyses have revealed genetic evidence of bipolar disorder (BD), but little is known about the genetic structure of BD subtypes. We aimed to investigate the genetic overlap and distinction of bipolar type I (BD I) & type II (BD II) by conducting integrative post-GWAS analyses.

Methods: We utilized single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-level approaches to uncover correlated and distinct genetic loci. Transcriptome-wide association analyses (TWAS) were then approached to pinpoint functional genes expressed in specific brain tissues and blood. Next, we performed cross-phenotype analysis, including exploring the potential causal associations between two BD subtypes and lithium responses and comparing the difference in genetic structures among four different psychiatric traits.

Results: SNP-level evidence revealed three genomic loci, SLC25A17, ZNF184, and RPL10AP3, shared by BD I and II, and one locus (MAD1L1) and significant gene sets involved in calcium channel activity, neural and synapsed signals that distinguished two subtypes. TWAS data implicated different genes affecting BD I and II through expression in specific brain regions (nucleus accumbens for BD I). Cross-phenotype analyses indicated that BD I and II share continuous genetic structures with schizophrenia and major depressive disorder, which help fill the gaps left by the dichotomy of mental disorders.

Conclusion: These combined evidences illustrate genetic convergence and divergence between BD I and II and provide an underlying biological and trans-diagnostic insight into major psychiatric disorders.

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