The authors of this study analyzed genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 33,332 cases and 27,888 controls of European ancestry for five disorders in the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium: autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and schizophrenia. The purpose was to identify specific variants underlying genetic effects shared between the five disorders.

Pathway analysis supported a role for calcium channel signaling genes for all five disorders. These included SNPs within two L-type voltage-gated calcium channel subunits, CACNA1C and CACNB2. The findings suggest that specific SNPs are associated with a range of psychiatric disorders of childhood or adult onset. In particular, variation in calcium-channel activity genes seems to have pleiotropic effects on psychopathology. These results help psychiatry to move beyond descriptive syndromes and towards a nosology informed by disease cause.

Cross-Disorder Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium: Identification of risk loci with shared effects on five major psychiatric disorders: a genome-wide analysis. The Lancet [Epub ahead of print, February 28, 2013; doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)62129-1]

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