The interactions between host genome and gut microbiome increase the risk of psychiatric disorders: Mendelian randomization and biological annotation

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Brain, behavior, and immunity


BACKGROUND: The correlation between human gut microbiota and psychiatric diseases has long been recognized. Based on the heritability of the microbiome, genome-wide association studies on human genome and gut microbiome (mbGWAS) have revealed important host-microbiome interactions. However, establishing causal relationships between specific gut microbiome features and psychological conditions remains challenging due to insufficient sample sizes of previous studies of mbGWAS.

METHODS: Cross-cohort meta-analysis (via METAL) and multi-trait analysis (via MTAG) were used to enhance the statistical power of mbGWAS for identifying genetic variants and genes. Using two large mbGWAS studies (7,738 and 5,959 participants respectively) and12 disease-specific studies from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC), we performed bidirectional two-sample mendelian randomization (MR) analyses between microbial features and psychiatric diseases (up to 500,199 individuals). Additionally, we conducted downstream gene- and gene-set-based analyses to investigate the shared biology linking gut microbiota and psychiatric diseases.

RESULTS: METAL and MTAG conducted in mbGWAS could boost power for gene prioritization and MR analysis. Increases in the number of lead SNPs and mapped genes were witnessed in 13/15 species and 5/10 genera after using METAL, and MTAG analysis gained an increase in sample size equivalent to expanding the original samples from 7% to 63%. Following METAL use, we identified a positive association between Bacteroides faecis and ADHD (OR, 1.09; 95 %CI, 1.02-1.16; P = 0.008). Bacteroides eggerthii and Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron were observed to be positively associated with PTSD (OR, 1.11; 95 %CI, 1.03-1.20; P = 0.007; OR, 1.11; 95 %CI, 1.01-1.23; P = 0.03). These findings remained stable across statistical models and sensitivity analyses. No genetic liabilities to psychiatric diseases may alter the abundance of gut microorganisms.Using biological annotation, we identified that those genes contributing to microbiomes (e.g., GRIN2A and RBFOX1) are expressed and enriched in human brain tissues.

CONCLUSIONS: Our statistical genetics strategy helps to enhance the power of mbGWAS, and our genetic findings offer new insights into biological pleiotropy and causal relationship between microbiota and psychiatric diseases.

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