Modeling a linkage between blood transcriptional expression and activity in brain regions to infer the phenotype of schizophrenia patients

Abstract : Hundreds of genetic loci participate to schizophrenia liability. It is also known that impaired cerebral connectivity is directly related to the cognitive and affective disturbances in schizophrenia. How genetic susceptibility and brain neural networks interact to specify a pathological phenotype in schizophrenia remains elusive. Imaging genetics, highlighting brain variations, has proven effective to establish links between vulnerability loci and associated clinical traits. As previous imaging genetics works in schizophrenia have essentially focused on structural DNA variants, these findings could be blurred by epigenetic mechanisms taking place during gene expression. We explored the meaningful links between genetic data from peripheral blood tissues on one hand, and regional brain reactivity to emotion task assayed by blood oxygen level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging on the other hand, in schizophrenia patients and matched healthy volunteers. We applied Sparse Generalized Canonical Correlation Analysis to identify joint signals between two blocks of variables: (i) the transcriptional expression of 33 candidate genes, and (ii) the blood oxygen level-dependent activity in 16 region of interest. Results suggested that peripheral transcriptional expression is related to brain imaging variations through a sequential pathway, ending with the schizophrenia phenotype. Generalization of such an approach to larger data sets should thus help in outlining the pathways involved in psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia.
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El Chérif Ibrahim, Vincent Guillemot, Magali Comte, Arthur Tenenhaus, Xavier Zendjidjian, et al.. Modeling a linkage between blood transcriptional expression and activity in brain regions to infer the phenotype of schizophrenia patients. npj Schizophrenia, Nature Publishing Group, 2017, 3, pp.27. ⟨10.1038/s41537-017-0027-3⟩. ⟨hal-01583472⟩

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