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1.  Identifying Genetic Variants for Heart Rate Variability in the Acetylcholine Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112476.
Heart rate variability is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. The acetylcholine pathway plays a key role in explaining heart rate variability in humans. We assessed whether 443 genotyped and imputed common genetic variants in eight key genes (CHAT, SLC18A3, SLC5A7, CHRNB4, CHRNA3, CHRNA, CHRM2 and ACHE) of the acetylcholine pathway were associated with variation in an established measure of heart rate variability reflecting parasympathetic control of the heart rhythm, the root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD) of normal RR intervals. The association was studied in a two stage design in individuals of European descent. First, analyses were performed in a discovery sample of four cohorts (n = 3429, discovery stage). Second, findings were replicated in three independent cohorts (n = 3311, replication stage), and finally the two stages were combined in a meta-analysis (n = 6740). RMSSD data were obtained under resting conditions. After correction for multiple testing, none of the SNPs showed an association with RMSSD. In conclusion, no common genetic variants for heart rate variability were identified in the largest and most comprehensive candidate gene study on the acetylcholine pathway to date. Future gene finding efforts for RMSSD may want to focus on hypothesis free approaches such as the genome-wide association study.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112476
PMCID: PMC4226560  PMID: 25384021
2.  Population structure, migration, and diversifying selection in the Netherlands 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2013;21(11):1277-1285.
Genetic variation in a population can be summarized through principal component analysis (PCA) on genome-wide data. PCs derived from such analyses are valuable for genetic association studies, where they can correct for population stratification. We investigated how to capture the genetic population structure in a well-characterized sample from the Netherlands and in a worldwide data set and examined whether (1) removing long-range linkage disequilibrium (LD) regions and LD-based SNP pruning significantly improves correlations between PCs and geography and (2) whether genetic differentiation may have been influenced by migration and/or selection. In the Netherlands, three PCs showed significant correlations with geography, distinguishing between: (1) North and South; (2) East and West; and (3) the middle-band and the rest of the country. The third PC only emerged with minimized LD, which also significantly increased correlations with geography for the other two PCs. In addition to geography, the Dutch North–South PC showed correlations with genome-wide homozygosity (r=0.245), which may reflect a serial-founder effect due to northwards migration, and also with height (♂: r=0.142, ♀: r=0.153). The divergence between subpopulations identified by PCs is partly driven by selection pressures. The first three PCs showed significant signals for diversifying selection (545 SNPs - the majority within 184 genes). The strongest signal was observed between North and South for the functional SNP in HERC2 that determines human blue/brown eye color. Thus, this study demonstrates how to increase ancestry signals in a relatively homogeneous population and how those signals can reveal evolutionary history.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2013.48
PMCID: PMC3798851  PMID: 23531865
PCA; linkage disequilibrium; population structure; migration; diversifying selection; Netherlands
3.  Association between Autozygosity and Major Depression: Stratification due to Religious Assortment 
Behavior genetics  2013;43(6):10.1007/s10519-013-9610-1.
The effects of inbreeding on the health of offspring can be studied by measuring genome-wide autozygosity as the proportion of the genome in runs of homozygosity (Froh) and relate Froh to outcomes such as psychiatric phenotypes. To successfully conduct these studies, the main patterns of variation for genome-wide autozygosity between and within populations should be well understood and accounted for. Within population variation was investigated in the Dutch population by comparing autozygosity between religious and non-religious groups. The Netherlands have a history of societal segregation and assortment based on religious affiliation, which may have increased parental relatedness within religious groups. Religion has been associated with several psychiatric phenotypes, such as major depressive disorder (MDD). We investigated whether there is an association between autozygosity and MDD, and the extent to which this association can be explained by religious affiliation. All Froh analyses included adjustment for ancestry-informative principal components (PCs) and geographic factors.
Religious affiliation was significantly associated with autozygosity, showing that Froh has the ability to capture within population differences that are not captured by ancestry-informative PCs or geographic factors. The non-religious group had significantly lower Froh values and significantly more MDD cases, leading to a nominally significant negative association between autozygosity and depression. After accounting for religious affiliation, MDD was not associated with Froh, indicating that the relation between MDD and inbreeding was due to stratification.
This study shows how past religious assortment and recent secularization can have genetic consequences in a relatively small country. This warrants accounting for the historical social context and its effects on genetic variation in association studies on psychiatric and other related traits.
doi:10.1007/s10519-013-9610-1
PMCID: PMC3827717  PMID: 23978897
autozygosity; runs of homozygosity; major depressive disorder; religion; population stratification; assortative mating
4.  The Association of Depression and Anxiety with Pain: A Study from NESDA 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e106907.
Chronic pain is commonly co-morbid with a depressive or anxiety disorder. Objective of this study is to examine the influence of depression, along with anxiety, on pain-related disability, pain intensity, and pain location in a large sample of adults with and without a depressive and/or anxiety disorder. The study population consisted of 2981 participants with a depressive, anxiety, co-morbid depressive and anxiety disorder, remitted disorder or no current disorder (controls). Severity of depressive and anxiety symptoms was also assessed. In separate multinomial regression analyses, the association of presence of depressive or anxiety disorders and symptom severity with the Chronic Pain Grade and location of pain was explored. Presence of a depressive (OR = 6.67; P<.001), anxiety (OR = 4.84; P<.001), or co-morbid depressive and anxiety disorder (OR = 30.26; P<.001) was associated with the Chronic Pain Grade. Moreover, symptom severity was associated with more disabling and severely limiting pain. Also, a remitted depressive or anxiety disorder showed more disabling and severely limiting pain (OR = 3.53; P<.001) as compared to controls. A current anxiety disorder (OR = 2.96; p<.001) and a co-morbid depressive and anxiety disorder (OR = 5.15; P<.001) were more strongly associated with cardio-respiratory pain, than gastro-intestinal or musculoskeletal pain. These findings remain after adjustment for chronic cardio respiratory illness. Patients with a current and remitted depressive and/or anxiety disorder and those with more severe symptoms have more disabling pain and pain of cardio-respiratory nature, than persons without a depressive or anxiety disorder. This warrants further research.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106907
PMCID: PMC4198088  PMID: 25330004
5.  Predictors of the Onset of Manic Symptoms and a (Hypo)Manic Episode in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e106871.
Objective
One third of patients with a major depressive episode also experience manic symptoms or, even, a (hypo)manic episode. Retrospective studies on the temporal sequencing of symptomatology suggest that the majority of these patients report depressive symptoms before the onset of manic symptoms. However, prospective studies are scarce and this study will, therefore, prospectively examine the onset of either manic symptoms or a (hypo)manic episode in patients with a major depressive disorder. In addition, we will consider the impact of a large set of potential risk factors on both outcomes.
Methodology
Four-year follow-up data were used to determine the onset of manic symptoms as well as a CIDI-based (hypo)manic episode in a large sample (n = 889, age: 18–65 years) of outpatients with a major depressive disorder and without manic symptoms at baseline. Baseline vulnerability (i.e., sociodemographics, family history of depression, childhood trauma, life-events) and clinical (i.e., isolated manic symptoms, depression characteristics, and psychiatric comorbidity) factors were considered as potential risk factors.
Results
In our sample of depressed patients, 15.9% developed manic symptoms and an additional 4.7% developed a (hypo)manic episode during four years. Baseline isolated manic symptoms and comorbid alcohol dependence predicted both the onset of manic symptoms and a (hypo)manic episode. Low education only predicted the onset of manic symptoms, whereas male gender, childhood trauma and severity of depressive symptoms showed strong associations with, especially, the onset of (hypo)manic episodes.
Conclusions
A substantial proportion (20.6%) of patients with a major depressive disorder later developed manic symptoms or a (hypo)manic episode. Interestingly, some identified risk factors differed for the two outcomes, which may indicate that pathways leading to the onset of manic symptoms or a (hypo)manic episode might be different. Our findings indirectly support a clinical staging model.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106871
PMCID: PMC4178019  PMID: 25259889
6.  Unhealthy lifestyles do not mediate the relationship between socioeconomic status and incident depressive symptoms; The Health ABC study 
Background
The relationship between low socioeconomic status (SES) and depressive symptoms is well described, also in older persons. Although studies have found associations between low SES and unhealthy lifestyle factors and between unhealthy lifestyle factors and depressive symptoms, not much is known about unhealthy lifestyles as a potential explanation of socioeconomic differences in depressive symptoms in older persons.
Methods
To study the independent pathways between SES (education, income, perceived income, and financial assets), lifestyle factors (smoking, alcohol use, body mass index, and physical activity), and incident depressive symptoms (CES-D 10 and reported use of antidepressant medication), we used 9 years of follow-up data (1997–2007) from 2,694 American black and white participants aged 70–79 from the Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) study. At baseline, 12.1% of the study population showed prevalent depressive symptoms, use of antidepressant medication, or treatment of depression in the five years prior to baseline. These persons were excluded from the analyses.
Results
Over a period of 9 years time, 860 participants (31.9%) developed depressive symptoms. Adjusted hazard ratios for incident depressive symptoms were higher in participants from lower SES groups compared to the highest SES group. The strongest relationships were found for black men. Although unhealthy lifestyle factors were consistently associated with low SES, they were weakly related to incident depressive symptoms. Lifestyle factors did not significantly reduce hazard ratios for depressive symptoms by SES.
Conclusion
In generally healthy persons aged 70–79 years lifestyle factors do not explain the relationship between SES and depressive symptoms. (250)
doi:10.1016/j.jagp.2013.01.004
PMCID: PMC3402597  PMID: 23567402
Health ABC study; Socioeconomic status; Lifestyle factors; Depressive symptoms; Elderly; United States
7.  Role of Nicotine Dependence in the Association between the Dopamine Receptor Gene DRD3 and Major Depressive Disorder 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98199.
Background
The aims of this study were to analyze associations of dopamine receptor genes (DRD1-5) with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and nicotine dependence (ND), and to investigate whether ND moderates genetic influences on MDD.
Methods
The sample was ascertained from the Finnish Twin Cohort. Twin pairs concordant for smoking history were recruited along with their family members, as part of the multisite Nicotine Addiction Genetics consortium. Genetic association analyses were based on 1428 adults. Total of 70 tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms within the dopamine receptor genes were genotyped and analyzed for association with MDD, ND, and MD-ND co-morbidity. Individual level logistic regression analyses were based on 1296 adults with data on ND and MDD diagnoses, as well as on dopamine receptor genotypes adjusted for sex, age, and alcohol use. Four independent samples, such as population-based and case-control samples, were used for replication.
Results
Rs2399496, located 1.5 kb downstream of DRD3, showed suggestive association for MDD (p = 0.00076) and significant association for MDD-ND co-morbidity (p = 0.000079). Suggestive gene-(rs2399496) by-ND-interaction justified analyses by genetic risk variant and ND status. Individuals with ND and two minor alleles (AA) of rs2399496 had almost six-fold risk for MDD (OR 5.74, 95%CI 3.12–10.5, p = 9.010e-09) compared to individuals without ND and with two major alleles (TT).
Conclusions
Significant association between a variant downstream of DRD3 and a co-morbid MDD-ND phenotype was detected. Our results further suggest that nicotine dependence may potentiate the influence of the DRD3 genetic variant on MDD.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098199
PMCID: PMC4057087  PMID: 24927283
8.  Maintenance Use of Antidepressants in Dutch General Practice: Non-Guideline Concordant 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97463.
Background
There is hardly evidence on maintenance treatment with antidepressants in primary care. Nevertheless, depression guidelines recommend maintenance treatment i.e. treatment to prevent recurrences, in patients with high risk of recurrence, and many patients use maintenance treatment with antidepressants. This study explores the characteristics of patients on maintenance treatment with antidepressants in general practice, and compares these characteristics with guideline recommendations for maintenance treatment.
Methods
We used data (baseline, two-year and four-year follow-up) of primary care respondents with remitted depressive disorder (≥6 months) from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (n = 776). Maintenance treatment was defined as the use of an antidepressant for ≥12 months. Multilevel logistic regression was used to describe the association between sociodemographic, clinical and care characteristics and use of maintenance treatment with antidepressants.
Results
Older patients, patients with a lower education, those using benzodiazepines or receiving psychological/psychiatric care and patients with a concurrent history of a dysthymic or anxiety disorder more often received maintenance treatment with antidepressants.
Limitations
Measurements were not made at the start of an episode, but at predetermined points in time. Diagnoses were based on interview (CIDI) data and could therefore in some cases have been different from the GP diagnosis.
Conclusions
Since patients with chronic or recurrent depression do not use maintenance treatment with antidepressants more often, characteristics of patients on maintenance treatment do not fully correspond with guideline recommendations. However, patients on maintenance treatment appear to be those with more severe disorder and/or more comorbidity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097463
PMCID: PMC4032267  PMID: 24858011
9.  Harmonization of Neuroticism and Extraversion phenotypes across inventories and cohorts in the Genetics of Personality Consortium: an application of Item Response Theory 
van den Berg, Stéphanie M. | de Moor, Marleen H. M. | McGue, Matt | Pettersson, Erik | Terracciano, Antonio | Verweij, Karin J. H. | Amin, Najaf | Derringer, Jaime | Esko, Tõnu | van Grootheest, Gerard | Hansell, Narelle K. | Huffman, Jennifer | Konte, Bettina | Lahti, Jari | Luciano, Michelle | Matteson, Lindsay K. | Viktorin, Alexander | Wouda, Jasper | Agrawal, Arpana | Allik, Jüri | Bierut, Laura | Broms, Ulla | Campbell, Harry | Smith, George Davey | Eriksson, Johan G. | Ferrucci, Luigi | Franke, Barbera | Fox, Jean-Paul | de Geus, Eco J. C. | Giegling, Ina | Gow, Alan J. | Grucza, Richard | Hartmann, Annette M. | Heath, Andrew C. | Heikkilä, Kauko | Iacono, William G. | Janzing, Joost | Jokela, Markus | Kiemeney, Lambertus | Lehtimäki, Terho | Madden, Pamela A. F. | Magnusson, Patrik K. E. | Northstone, Kate | Nutile, Teresa | Ouwens, Klaasjan G. | Palotie, Aarno | Pattie, Alison | Pesonen, Anu-Katriina | Polasek, Ozren | Pulkkinen, Lea | Pulkki-Råback, Laura | Raitakari, Olli T. | Realo, Anu | Rose, Richard J. | Ruggiero, Daniela | Seppälä, Ilkka | Slutske, Wendy S. | Smyth, David C. | Sorice, Rossella | Starr, John M. | Sutin, Angelina R. | Tanaka, Toshiko | Verhagen, Josine | Vermeulen, Sita | Vuoksimaa, Eero | Widen, Elisabeth | Willemsen, Gonneke | Wright, Margaret J. | Zgaga, Lina | Rujescu, Dan | Metspalu, Andres | Wilson, James F. | Ciullo, Marina | Hayward, Caroline | Rudan, Igor | Deary, Ian J. | Räikkönen, Katri | Arias Vasquez, Alejandro | Costa, Paul T. | Keltikangas-Järvinen, Liisa | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Penninx, Brenda W. J. H. | Krueger, Robert F. | Evans, David M. | Kaprio, Jaakko | Pedersen, Nancy L. | Martin, Nicholas G. | Boomsma, Dorret I.
Behavior Genetics  2014;44(4):295-313.
Mega- or meta-analytic studies (e.g. genome-wide association studies) are increasingly used in behavior genetics. An issue in such studies is that phenotypes are often measured by different instruments across study cohorts, requiring harmonization of measures so that more powerful fixed effect meta-analyses can be employed. Within the Genetics of Personality Consortium, we demonstrate for two clinically relevant personality traits, Neuroticism and Extraversion, how Item-Response Theory (IRT) can be applied to map item data from different inventories to the same underlying constructs. Personality item data were analyzed in >160,000 individuals from 23 cohorts across Europe, USA and Australia in which Neuroticism and Extraversion were assessed by nine different personality inventories. Results showed that harmonization was very successful for most personality inventories and moderately successful for some. Neuroticism and Extraversion inventories were largely measurement invariant across cohorts, in particular when comparing cohorts from countries where the same language is spoken. The IRT-based scores for Neuroticism and Extraversion were heritable (48 and 49 %, respectively, based on a meta-analysis of six twin cohorts, total N = 29,496 and 29,501 twin pairs, respectively) with a significant part of the heritability due to non-additive genetic factors. For Extraversion, these genetic factors qualitatively differ across sexes. We showed that our IRT method can lead to a large increase in sample size and therefore statistical power. The IRT approach may be applied to any mega- or meta-analytic study in which item-based behavioral measures need to be harmonized.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10519-014-9654-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s10519-014-9654-x
PMCID: PMC4057636  PMID: 24828478
Personality; Item-Response Theory; Measurement; Genome-wide association studies; Consortium; Meta-analysis
10.  Enhanced amygdala reactivity to emotional faces in adults reporting childhood emotional maltreatment 
In the context of chronic childhood emotional maltreatment (CEM; emotional abuse and/or neglect), adequately responding to facial expressions is an important skill. Over time, however, this adaptive response may lead to a persistent vigilance for emotional facial expressions. The amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) are key regions in face processing. However, the neurobiological correlates of face processing in adults reporting CEM are yet unknown. We examined amydala and mPFC reactivity to emotional faces (Angry, Fearful, Sad, Happy, Neutral) vs scrambled faces in healthy controls and unmedicated patients with depression and/or anxiety disorders reporting CEM before the age of 16 years (n = 60), and controls and patients who report no childhood abuse (n = 75). We found that CEM was associated with enhanced bilateral amygdala reactivity to emotional faces in general, and independent of psychiatric status. Furthermore, we found no support for differential mPFC functioning, suggesting that amygdala hyper-responsivity to emotional facial perception in adults reporting CEM may be independent from top–down influences of the mPFC. These findings may be key in understanding the increased emotional sensitivity and interpersonal difficulties, that have been reported in individuals with a history of CEM.
doi:10.1093/scan/nss007
PMCID: PMC3624946  PMID: 22258799
Amygdala; childhood emotional maltreatment; fMRI; mPFC; stress
12.  Cue Reactivity Is Associated with Duration and Severity of Alcohol Dependence: An fMRI Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84560.
Introduction
With the progression of substance dependence, drug cue-related brain activation is thought to shift from motivational towards habit pathways. However, a direct association between cue-induced brain activation and dependence duration has not yet been shown. We therefore examined the relationship between alcohol cue-reactivity in the brain, cue-induced subjective craving and alcohol dependence duration and severity. Since alcohol dependence is highly comorbid with depression/anxiety, which may modulate brain responses to alcohol cues, we also examined the relation between comorbid depression/anxiety and cue-reactivity.
Methods
We compared 30 alcohol dependent patients with 15 healthy controls and 15 depression/anxiety patients during a visual alcohol cue-reactivity task using functional magnetic resonance imaging blood oxygenated level-dependent responses and subjective craving as outcomes. Within the alcohol dependent group we correlated cue-reactivity with alcohol dependence severity and duration, with cue-induced craving and with depression/anxiety levels.
Results
Alcohol dependent patients showed greater cue-reactivity in motivational brain pathways and stronger subjective craving than depression/anxiety patients and healthy controls. Depression/anxiety was not associated with cue-reactivity, but depression severity in alcohol dependent patients was positively associated with craving. Within alcohol dependence, longer duration of alcohol dependence was associated with stronger cue-related activation of the posterior putamen, a structure involved in habits, whereas higher alcohol dependence severity was associated with lower cue-reactivity in the anterior putamen, an area implicated in goal-directed behavior preceding habit formation.
Conclusion
Cue-reactivity in alcohol dependence is not modulated by comorbid depression or anxiety. More importantly, the current data confirm the hypothesis of a ventral to dorsal striatal shift of learning processes with longer dependence duration, which could underlie increasingly habitual substance use with progressing substance dependence.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084560
PMCID: PMC3882248  PMID: 24400099
13.  Estimating the genetic variance of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) due to all SNPs 
Biological psychiatry  2012;72(8):707-709.
Genome-wide association (GWA) studies of psychiatric disorders have been criticized for their lack in explaining a considerable proportion of the heritability established in twin and family studies. GWA studies of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in particular have so far been unsuccessful in detecting genome-wide significant SNPs. Using two different recently proposed methods designed to estimate the heritability of a phenotype that is attributable to genome-wide SNPs, we show that SNPs on current platforms contain substantial information concerning the additive genetic variance of MDD. To assess the consistency of these two different methods we analyzed four other complex phenotypes from different domains. The pattern of results is consistent with estimates of heritability obtained in twin studies carried out in the same population.
doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.03.011
PMCID: PMC3404250  PMID: 22520966
14.  Effects of Antidepressants, but not Psychopathology, on Cardiac Sympathetic Control: A Longitudinal Study 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2012;37(11):2487-2495.
Increased sympathetic activity has been hypothesized to have a role in the elevated somatic disease risk in persons with depressive or anxiety disorders. However, it remains unclear whether increased sympathetic activity reflects a direct effect of anxiety or depression or an indirect effect of antidepressant medication. The aim of this study was to test longitudinally whether cardiac sympathetic control, measured by pre-ejection period (PEP), was increased by depression/anxiety status and by antidepressant use. Cross-sectional and longitudinal data were from a depression and anxiety cohort: the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA). Baseline data of 2838 NESDA subjects (mean age 41.7 years, 66.7% female) and 2-year follow-up data of 2226 subjects were available for analyses. Included were subjects with and without depressive/anxiety disorders, using or not using different antidepressants at baseline or follow-up. The PEP was measured non-invasively by 1.5 h of ambulatory impedance cardiography. Cross-sectional analyses compared PEP across psychopathology and antidepressant groups. Longitudinal analyses compared 2-year changes in PEP in relation to changes in psychopathology and antidepressant use. Cross-sectional analyses showed that antidepressant-naïve depressive/anxious subjects had comparable PEP as controls, whereas subjects using tricyclic (TCA) or combined serotonergic/noradrenergic antidepressants (SNRI) had significantly shorter PEP compared with controls. In contrast, subjects using selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) had longer PEP than controls. Longitudinal results confirmed these findings: compared with 2-year change in PEP in continuous non-users (+2 ms), subjects who started TCA or SNRI treatment showed significantly shortened PEP (−11 ms, p=0.005 and p<0.001), whereas subjects who started SSRI treatment showed significant prolongation of PEP (+9 ms, p=0.002). Reversed findings were observed among those who stopped antidepressant use. These findings suggest that depressive and anxiety disorders are not associated with increased cardiac sympathetic control. However, results pose that TCA and SNRI use increases sympathetic control, whereas SSRI use decreases sympathetic control.
doi:10.1038/npp.2012.107
PMCID: PMC3442343  PMID: 22763618
sympathetic nervous system; major depressive disorder; pre-ejection period; antidepressants; anxiety disorder; biological psychiatry; epidemiology; depression; unipolar/bipolar; psychopharmacology; antidepressants; autonomic nervous system; cardiac sympathetic effects
15.  Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for personality 
Molecular psychiatry  2010;17(3):337-349.
Personality can be thought of as a set of characteristics that influence people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviour across a variety of settings. Variation in personality is predictive of many outcomes in life, including mental health. Here we report on a meta-analysis of genome-wide association (GWA) data for personality in ten discovery samples (17 375 adults) and five in-silico replication samples (3 294 adults). All participants were of European ancestry. Personality scores for Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness were based on the NEO Five-Factor Inventory. Genotype data were available of ~2.4M Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs; directly typed and imputed using HAPMAP data). In the discovery samples, classical association analyses were performed under an additive model followed by meta-analysis using the weighted inverse variance method. Results showed genome-wide significance for Openness to Experience near the RASA1 gene on 5q14.3 (rs1477268 and rs2032794, P = 2.8 × 10−8 and 3.1 × 10−8) and for Conscientiousness in the brain-expressed KATNAL2 gene on 18q21.1 (rs2576037, P = 4.9 × 10−8). We further conducted a gene-based test that confirmed the association of KATNAL2 to Conscientiousness. In-silico replication did not, however, show significant associations of the top SNPs with Openness and Conscientiousness, although the direction of effect of the KATNAL2 SNP on Conscientiousness was consistent in all replication samples. Larger scale GWA studies and alternative approaches are required for confirmation of KATNAL2 as a novel gene affecting Conscientiousness.
doi:10.1038/mp.2010.128
PMCID: PMC3785122  PMID: 21173776
Personality; Five-Factor Model; Genome-wide association; Meta-analysis; Genetic variants
16.  Cognitive Reactivity, Implicit Associations, and the Incidence of Depression: A Two-Year Prospective Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70245.
Background
Cognitive reactivity to sad mood is a vulnerability marker of depression. Implicit self-depressed associations are related to depression status and reduced remission probability. It is unknown whether these cognitive vulnerabilities precede the first onset of depression.
Aim
To test the predictive value of cognitive reactivity and implicit self-depressed associations for the incidence of depressive disorders.
Methods
Prospective cohort study of 834 never-depressed individuals, followed over a two-year period. The predictive value of cognitive reactivity and implicit self-depressed associations for the onset of depressive disorders was assessed using binomial logistic regression. The multivariate model corrected for baseline levels of subclinical depressive symptoms, neuroticism, for the presence of a history of anxiety disorders, for family history of depressive or anxiety disorders, and for the incidence of negative life events.
Results
As single predictors, both cognitive reactivity and implicit self-depressed associations were significantly associated with depression incidence. In the multivariate model, cognitive reactivity was significantly associated with depression incidence, together with baseline depressive symptoms and the number of negative life events, whereas implicit self-depressed associations were not.
Conclusion
Cognitive reactivity to sad mood is associated with the incidence of depressive disorders, also when various other depression-related variables are controlled for. Implicit self-depressed associations predicted depression incidence in a bivariate test, but not when controlling for other predictors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070245
PMCID: PMC3724814  PMID: 23922962
17.  The Role of Adiposity in Cardiometabolic Traits: A Mendelian Randomization Analysis 
Fall, Tove | Hägg, Sara | Mägi, Reedik | Ploner, Alexander | Fischer, Krista | Horikoshi, Momoko | Sarin, Antti-Pekka | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Ladenvall, Claes | Kals, Mart | Kuningas, Maris | Draisma, Harmen H. M. | Ried, Janina S. | van Zuydam, Natalie R. | Huikari, Ville | Mangino, Massimo | Sonestedt, Emily | Benyamin, Beben | Nelson, Christopher P. | Rivera, Natalia V. | Kristiansson, Kati | Shen, Huei-yi | Havulinna, Aki S. | Dehghan, Abbas | Donnelly, Louise A. | Kaakinen, Marika | Nuotio, Marja-Liisa | Robertson, Neil | de Bruijn, Renée F. A. G. | Ikram, M. Arfan | Amin, Najaf | Balmforth, Anthony J. | Braund, Peter S. | Doney, Alexander S. F. | Döring, Angela | Elliott, Paul | Esko, Tõnu | Franco, Oscar H. | Gretarsdottir, Solveig | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Heikkilä, Kauko | Herzig, Karl-Heinz | Holm, Hilma | Hottenga, Jouke Jan | Hyppönen, Elina | Illig, Thomas | Isaacs, Aaron | Isomaa, Bo | Karssen, Lennart C. | Kettunen, Johannes | Koenig, Wolfgang | Kuulasmaa, Kari | Laatikainen, Tiina | Laitinen, Jaana | Lindgren, Cecilia | Lyssenko, Valeriya | Läärä, Esa | Rayner, Nigel W. | Männistö, Satu | Pouta, Anneli | Rathmann, Wolfgang | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Ruokonen, Aimo | Savolainen, Markku J. | Sijbrands, Eric J. G. | Small, Kerrin S. | Smit, Jan H. | Steinthorsdottir, Valgerdur | Syvänen, Ann-Christine | Taanila, Anja | Tobin, Martin D. | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | Willems, Sara M. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Witteman, Jacqueline | Perola, Markus | Evans, Alun | Ferrières, Jean | Virtamo, Jarmo | Kee, Frank | Tregouet, David-Alexandre | Arveiler, Dominique | Amouyel, Philippe | Ferrario, Marco M. | Brambilla, Paolo | Hall, Alistair S. | Heath, Andrew C. | Madden, Pamela A. F. | Martin, Nicholas G. | Montgomery, Grant W. | Whitfield, John B. | Jula, Antti | Knekt, Paul | Oostra, Ben | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Penninx, Brenda W. J. H. | Davey Smith, George | Kaprio, Jaakko | Samani, Nilesh J. | Gieger, Christian | Peters, Annette | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Boomsma, Dorret I. | de Geus, Eco J. C. | Tuomi, TiinaMaija | Power, Chris | Hammond, Christopher J. | Spector, Tim D. | Lind, Lars | Orho-Melander, Marju | Palmer, Colin Neil Alexander | Morris, Andrew D. | Groop, Leif | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Salomaa, Veikko | Vartiainen, Erkki | Hofman, Albert | Ripatti, Samuli | Metspalu, Andres | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Stefansson, Kari | Pedersen, Nancy L. | McCarthy, Mark I. | Ingelsson, Erik | Prokopenko, Inga
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001474.
In this study, Prokopenko and colleagues provide novel evidence for causal relationship between adiposity and heart failure and increased liver enzymes using a Mendelian randomization study design.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The association between adiposity and cardiometabolic traits is well known from epidemiological studies. Whilst the causal relationship is clear for some of these traits, for others it is not. We aimed to determine whether adiposity is causally related to various cardiometabolic traits using the Mendelian randomization approach.
Methods and Findings
We used the adiposity-associated variant rs9939609 at the FTO locus as an instrumental variable (IV) for body mass index (BMI) in a Mendelian randomization design. Thirty-six population-based studies of individuals of European descent contributed to the analyses.
Age- and sex-adjusted regression models were fitted to test for association between (i) rs9939609 and BMI (n = 198,502), (ii) rs9939609 and 24 traits, and (iii) BMI and 24 traits. The causal effect of BMI on the outcome measures was quantified by IV estimators. The estimators were compared to the BMI–trait associations derived from the same individuals. In the IV analysis, we demonstrated novel evidence for a causal relationship between adiposity and incident heart failure (hazard ratio, 1.19 per BMI-unit increase; 95% CI, 1.03–1.39) and replicated earlier reports of a causal association with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, dyslipidemia, and hypertension (odds ratio for IV estimator, 1.1–1.4; all p<0.05). For quantitative traits, our results provide novel evidence for a causal effect of adiposity on the liver enzymes alanine aminotransferase and gamma-glutamyl transferase and confirm previous reports of a causal effect of adiposity on systolic and diastolic blood pressure, fasting insulin, 2-h post-load glucose from the oral glucose tolerance test, C-reactive protein, triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (all p<0.05). The estimated causal effects were in agreement with traditional observational measures in all instances except for type 2 diabetes, where the causal estimate was larger than the observational estimate (p = 0.001).
Conclusions
We provide novel evidence for a causal relationship between adiposity and heart failure as well as between adiposity and increased liver enzymes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—disease that affects the heart and/or the blood vessels—is a major cause of illness and death worldwide. In the US, for example, coronary heart disease—a CVD in which narrowing of the heart's blood vessels by fatty deposits slows the blood supply to the heart and may eventually cause a heart attack—is the leading cause of death, and stroke—a CVD in which the brain's blood supply is interrupted—is the fourth leading cause of death. Globally, both the incidence of CVD (the number of new cases in a population every year) and its prevalence (the proportion of the population with CVD) are increasing, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. This increasing burden of CVD is occurring in parallel with a global increase in the incidence and prevalence of obesity—having an unhealthy amount of body fat (adiposity)—and of metabolic diseases—conditions such as diabetes in which metabolism (the processes that the body uses to make energy from food) is disrupted, with resulting high blood sugar and damage to the blood vessels.
Why Was This Study Done?
Epidemiological studies—investigations that record the patterns and causes of disease in populations—have reported an association between adiposity (indicated by an increased body mass index [BMI], which is calculated by dividing body weight in kilograms by height in meters squared) and cardiometabolic traits such as coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure (a condition in which the heart is incapable of pumping sufficient amounts of blood around the body), diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), and high blood cholesterol (dyslipidemia). However, observational studies cannot prove that adiposity causes any particular cardiometabolic trait because overweight individuals may share other characteristics (confounding factors) that are the real causes of both obesity and the cardiometabolic disease. Moreover, it is possible that having CVD or a metabolic disease causes obesity (reverse causation). For example, individuals with heart failure cannot do much exercise, so heart failure may cause obesity rather than vice versa. Here, the researchers use “Mendelian randomization” to examine whether adiposity is causally related to various cardiometabolic traits. Because gene variants are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding and are free from reverse causation. It is known that a genetic variant (rs9939609) within the genome region that encodes the fat-mass- and obesity-associated gene (FTO) is associated with increased BMI. Thus, an investigation of the associations between rs9939609 and cardiometabolic traits can indicate whether obesity is causally related to these traits.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the association between rs9939609 (the “instrumental variable,” or IV) and BMI, between rs9939609 and 24 cardiometabolic traits, and between BMI and the same traits using genetic and health data collected in 36 population-based studies of nearly 200,000 individuals of European descent. They then quantified the strength of the causal association between BMI and the cardiometabolic traits by calculating “IV estimators.” Higher BMI showed a causal relationship with heart failure, metabolic syndrome (a combination of medical disorders that increases the risk of developing CVD), type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, increased blood levels of liver enzymes (an indicator of liver damage; some metabolic disorders involve liver damage), and several other cardiometabolic traits. All the IV estimators were similar to the BMI–cardiovascular trait associations (observational estimates) derived from the same individuals, with the exception of diabetes, where the causal estimate was higher than the observational estimate, probably because the observational estimate is based on a single BMI measurement, whereas the causal estimate considers lifetime changes in BMI.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Like all Mendelian randomization studies, the reliability of the causal associations reported here depends on several assumptions made by the researchers. Nevertheless, these findings provide support for many previously suspected and biologically plausible causal relationships, such as that between adiposity and hypertension. They also provide new insights into the causal effect of obesity on liver enzyme levels and on heart failure. In the latter case, these findings suggest that a one-unit increase in BMI might increase the incidence of heart failure by 17%. In the US, this corresponds to 113,000 additional cases of heart failure for every unit increase in BMI at the population level. Although additional studies are needed to confirm and extend these findings, these results suggest that global efforts to reduce the burden of obesity will likely also reduce the occurrence of CVD and metabolic disorders.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001474.
The American Heart Association provides information on all aspects of cardiovascular disease and tips on keeping the heart healthy, including weight management (in several languages); its website includes personal stories about stroke and heart attacks
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on heart disease, stroke, and all aspects of overweight and obesity (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about cardiovascular disease and obesity, including a personal story about losing weight
The World Health Organization provides information on obesity (in several languages)
The International Obesity Taskforce provides information about the global obesity epidemic
Wikipedia has a page on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides links to other sources of information on heart disease, on vascular disease, on obesity, and on metabolic disorders (in English and Spanish)
The International Association for the Study of Obesity provides maps and information about obesity worldwide
The International Diabetes Federation has a web page that describes types, complications, and risk factors of diabetes
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001474
PMCID: PMC3692470  PMID: 23824655
18.  Lipid Peroxidation and Depressed Mood in Community-Dwelling Older Men and Women 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65406.
It has been hypothesized that cellular damage caused by oxidative stress is associated with late-life depression but epidemiological evidence is limited. In the present study we evaluated the association between urinary 8-iso-prostaglandin F2α (8-iso-PGF2α), a biomarker of lipid peroxidation, and depressed mood in a large sample of community-dwelling older adults. Participants were selected from the Health, Aging and Body Composition study, a community-based longitudinal study of older persons (aged 70–79 years). The present analyses was based on a subsample of 1027 men and 948 women free of mobility disability. Urinary concentration of 8-iso-PGF2α was measured by radioimmunoassay methods and adjusted for urinary creatinine. Depressed mood was defined as a score greater than 5 on the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale and/or use of antidepressant medications. Depressed mood was present in 3.0% of men and 5.5% of women. Depressed men presented higher urinary concentrations of 8-iso-PGF2α than non-depressed men even after adjustment for multiple sociodemographic, lifestyle and health factors (p = 0.03, Cohen’s d = 0.30). This association was not present in women (depressed status-by-sex interaction p = 0.04). Our study showed that oxidative damage may be linked to depression in older men from a large sample of the general population. Further studies are needed to explore whether the modulation of oxidative stress may break down the link between late-life depression and its deleterious health consequences.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065406
PMCID: PMC3679197  PMID: 23776478
19.  Depressive Symptoms, Chronic Pain, and Falls in Older Community-Dwelling Adults: The MOBILIZE Boston Study 
BACKGROUND
A better understanding is needed about the role of depression and chronic pain, two related chronic conditions, as predictors of falls in older persons.
OBJECTIVES
To examine whether overall depressive symptoms and symptom clusters are associated with fall risk, and to determine whether chronic pain mediates the relationship between depression and fall risk in aging.
DESIGN
Prospective cohort study.
SETTING
City of Boston and surrounding communities.
PARTICIPANTS
Older community-dwelling adults (n=722,mean age 78.3y).
MEASUREMENTS
Depressive symptomatology was assessed at baseline by the CESDR as overall depression and two separate domains, cognitive or somatic symptoms. Chronic pain was examined at baseline as: number of pain sites (none, single site, or multisite/widespread), pain severity, and pain interference with daily life activities. Participants recorded falls on monthly postcards during a subsequent 18-month period.
RESULTS
By using negative binomial regression, the rate of incident falls was highest among those with highest burden of depressive symptoms (indicated by total CESDR, Cognitive or Somatic CESDR domains). After adjustment for multiple confounders and fall risk factors, fall rate ratios comparing the highest CESDR three quartiles to the lowest quartile were 1.91, 1.26, 1.11, respectively. Similarly graded associations were observed according to CESDR domains. Although pain location and interference were mediators of the relationship between depression and falls, adjustment for pain reduced fall risk estimates only modestly. There was no interaction between depression and pain in relation to fall risk.
CONCLUSION
Depressive symptoms are associated with fall risk in older adults and are mediated in part by chronic pain. Research is needed to determine effective strategies for reducing fall risk and related injuries in older people who have pain and depressive symptoms.
doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03829.x
PMCID: PMC3288166  PMID: 22283141
Depression; Falls; Pain; Aging
20.  Comparing Cognitive and Somatic Symptoms of Depression in Myocardial Infarction Patients and Depressed Patients in Primary and Mental Health Care 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53859.
Depression in myocardial infarction patients is often a first episode with a late age of onset. Two studies that compared depressed myocardial infarction patients to psychiatric patients found similar levels of somatic symptoms, and one study reported lower levels of cognitive/affective symptoms in myocardial infarction patients. We hypothesized that myocardial infarction patients with first depression onset at a late age would experience fewer cognitive/affective symptoms than depressed patients without cardiovascular disease. Combined data from two large multicenter depression studies resulted in a sample of 734 depressed individuals (194 myocardial infarction, 214 primary care, and 326 mental health care patients). A structured clinical interview provided information about depression diagnosis. Summed cognitive/affective and somatic symptom levels were compared between groups using analysis of covariance, with and without adjusting for the effects of recurrence and age of onset. Depressed myocardial infarction and primary care patients reported significantly lower cognitive/affective symptom levels than mental health care patients (F (2,682) = 6.043, p = 0.003). Additional analyses showed that the difference between myocardial infarction and mental health care patients disappeared after adjusting for age of onset but not recurrence of depression. These group differences were also supported by data-driven latent class analyses. There were no significant group differences in somatic symptom levels. Depression after myocardial infarction appears to have a different phenomenology than depression observed in mental health care. Future studies should investigate the etiological factors predictive of symptom dimensions in myocardial infarction and late-onset depression patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053859
PMCID: PMC3544747  PMID: 23342019
21.  Serum BDNF Concentrations Show Strong Seasonal Variation and Correlations with the Amount of Ambient Sunlight 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48046.
Earlier findings show seasonality in processes and behaviors such as brain plasticity and depression that in part are regulated by Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). Based on this we investigated seasonal variation in serum BDNF concentrations in 2,851 persons who took part in the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA). Analyses by month of sampling (monthly n’s >196) showed pronounced seasonal variation in serum BDNF concentrations (P<.0001) with increasing concentrations in the spring-summer period (standardized regression weight (ß) = 0.19, P<.0001) and decreasing concentrations in the autumn-winter period (ß = −0.17, P<.0001). Effect sizes [Cohen’s d] ranged from 0.27 to 0.66 for monthly significant differences. We found similar seasonal variation for both sexes and for persons with a DSM-IV depression diagnosis and healthy control subjects. In explorative analyses we found that the number of sunshine hours (a major trigger to entrain seasonality) in the week of blood withdrawal and the 10 weeks prior to this event positively correlated with serum BDNF concentrations (Pearson’s correlation coefficients ranged: 0.05 – 0.18) and this could partly explain the observed monthly variation. These results provide strong evidence that serum BDNF concentrations systematically vary over the year. This finding is important for our understanding of those factors that regulate BDNF expression and may provide novel avenues to understand seasonal dependent changes in behavior and illness such as depression. Finally, the findings reported here should be taken into account when designing and interpreting studies on BDNF.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048046
PMCID: PMC3487856  PMID: 23133609
22.  A 3p26-3p25 genetic linkage finding for DSM-IV major depression in heavy smoking families 
The American journal of psychiatry  2011;168(8):848-852.
Objective
The authors tested for genetic linkage of DSM-IV-diagnosed major depressive disorder in families that were ascertained for cigarette smoking.
Method
Within a study that targeted families characterized by a history of smoking, analyses derived a subset of 91 Australian families with two or more offspring with a history of DSM-IV major depressive disorder (affected sibling pairs, N=187) and 25 Finnish families (affected sibling pairs, N=33). Within this affected sibling pair design, the authors conducted nonparametric linkage analysis.
Results
In the Australian heavy smoking families, the authors found a genome-wide significant multipoint LOD score of 4.14 for major depressive disorder on chromosome 3 at 24.9 cM (3p26-3p25).
Conclusions
Genome-wide significant linkage was detected for major depressive disorder on chromosome 3p in a sample ascertained for smoking. A linkage peak at this location was also observed in an independent study of major depressive disorder.
doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2011.10091319
PMCID: PMC3433250  PMID: 21572167
23.  Orbitofrontal Gray Matter Relates to Early Morning Awakening: A Neural Correlate of Insomnia Complaints? 
Sleep complaints increase profoundly with age; prevalence estimates of insomnia in the elderly reach up to 37%. The three major types of nocturnal complaints are difficulties initiating (DIS) and maintaining (DMS) sleep and early morning awakening (EMA), of which the latter appears most characteristic for aging. The neural correlates associated with these complaints have hardly been investigated, hampering the development of rational treatment and prevention. A recent study on structural brain correlates of insomnia showed that overall severity, but not duration, of insomnia complaints is associated with lower gray matter (GM) density in part of the left orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Following up on this, we investigated, in an independent sample of people not diagnosed with insomnia, whether individual differences in GM density are associated with differences in DIS, DMS, and EMA. Sixty five healthy participants (mean age = 41 years, range 18–56) filled out questionnaires and underwent structural magnetic resonance imaging. Three compound Z-scores were computed for questionnaire items relating to DIS, DMS, and EMA. Whole-brain voxel-based morphometry was used to investigate their association with GM density. Results show that participants with lower GM density in a region where the left inferior OFC borders the insula report more EMA, but not DIS or DMS. This is the first study to investigate structural brain correlates of specific sleep characteristics that can translate into complaints in insomniacs. The selective association of EMA with orbitofrontal GM density makes our findings particularly relevant to elderly people, where EMA represents the most characteristic complaint. It is hypothesized that low GM density in aforementioned orbitofrontal area affects its role in sensing comfort. An intact ability to evaluate comfort may be crucial to maintain sleep, especially at the end of the night when sleep is vulnerable because homeostatic sleep propensity has dissipated.
doi:10.3389/fneur.2012.00105
PMCID: PMC3463899  PMID: 23060850
insomnia; aging; early morning awakening; orbitofrontal cortex; voxel-based morphometry; structural magnetic resonance imaging
24.  Eight Common Genetic Variants Associated with Serum DHEAS Levels Suggest a Key Role in Ageing Mechanisms 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(4):e1002025.
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) is the most abundant circulating steroid secreted by adrenal glands—yet its function is unknown. Its serum concentration declines significantly with increasing age, which has led to speculation that a relative DHEAS deficiency may contribute to the development of common age-related diseases or diminished longevity. We conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association data with 14,846 individuals and identified eight independent common SNPs associated with serum DHEAS concentrations. Genes at or near the identified loci include ZKSCAN5 (rs11761528; p = 3.15×10−36), SULT2A1 (rs2637125; p = 2.61×10−19), ARPC1A (rs740160; p = 1.56×10−16), TRIM4 (rs17277546; p = 4.50×10−11), BMF (rs7181230; p = 5.44×10−11), HHEX (rs2497306; p = 4.64×10−9), BCL2L11 (rs6738028; p = 1.72×10−8), and CYP2C9 (rs2185570; p = 2.29×10−8). These genes are associated with type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, actin filament assembly, drug and xenobiotic metabolism, and zinc finger proteins. Several SNPs were associated with changes in gene expression levels, and the related genes are connected to biological pathways linking DHEAS with ageing. This study provides much needed insight into the function of DHEAS.
Author Summary
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS), mainly secreted by the adrenal gland, is the most abundant circulating steroid in humans. It shows a significant physiological decline after the age of 25 and diminishes about 95% by the age of 85 years, which has led to speculation that a relative DHEAS deficiency may contribute to the development of common age-related diseases or diminished longevity. Twin- and family-based studies have shown that there is a substantial genetic effect with heritability estimate of 60%, but no specific genes regulating serum DHEAS concentration have been identified to date. Here we take advantage of recent technical and methodological advances to examine the effects of common genetic variants on serum DHEAS concentrations. By examining 14,846 Caucasian individuals, we show that eight common genetic variants are associated with serum DHEAS concentrations. Genes at or near these genetic variants include BCL2L11, ARPC1A, ZKSCAN5, TRIM4, HHEX, CYP2C9, BMF, and SULT2A1. These genes have various associations with steroid hormone metabolism—co-morbidities of ageing including type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, actin filament assembly, drug and xenobiotic metabolism, and zinc finger proteins—suggesting a wider functional role for DHEAS than previously thought.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002025
PMCID: PMC3077384  PMID: 21533175
25.  Most Antidepressant Use in Primary Care Is Justified; Results of the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e14784.
Background
Depression is a common illness, often treated in primary care. Many studies have reported undertreatment with antidepressants in primary care. Recently, some studies also reported overtreatment with antidepressants. The present study was designed to assess whether treatment with antidepressants in primary care is in accordance with current guidelines, with a special focus on overtreatment.
Methodology
We used baseline data of primary care respondents from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA) (n = 1610). Seventy-nine patients with treatment in secondary care were excluded. We assessed justification for treatment with antidepressant according to the Dutch primary care guidelines for depression and for anxiety disorders. Use of antidepressants was based on drug-container inspection or, if unavailable, on self-report. Results were recalculated to the original population of primary care patients from which the participants in NESDA were selected (n = 10,677).
Principal Findings
Of 1531 included primary care patients, 199 (13%) used an antidepressant, of whom 188 (94.5%) (possibly) justified. After recalculating these numbers to the original population (n = 10,677), we found 908 (95% CI 823 to 994) antidepressant users. Forty-nine (95% CI 20 to 78) of them (5.4%) had no current justification for an antidepressant, but 27 of them (54.5%) had a justified reason for an antidepressant at some earlier point in their life.
Conclusions
We found that overtreatment with antidepressants in primary care is not a frequent problem. Too long continuation of treatment seems to explain the largest proportion of overtreatment as opposed to inappropriate initiation of treatment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014784
PMCID: PMC3066192  PMID: 21479264

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