Psychiatric disorders often share common genetic risk, according to study of more than 850,000 patients

Dr. Sudha Seshadri
Sudha Seshadri, M.D., of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s & Neurodegenerative Diseases at UT Health San Antonio, is working to avert a tsunami of dementia in the aging populations of Texas and beyond.

By poring over data from hundreds of thousands of patients, a worldwide team that included Sudha Seshadri, M.D., of UT Health San Antonio, found that psychiatric disorders share a great deal of common genetic variant risk, whereas neurological disorders appear to be more distinct from one another and from the psychiatric disorders.

Dr. Seshadri is professor of neurology and founding director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s & Neurodegenerative Diseases at UT Health San Antonio. She is a senior investigator in the Brainstorm consortium, which is conducting genome-wide association studies of 25 disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, major depressive disorder, epilepsy and schizophrenia.

The findings are reported June 22 in the journal Science. The massive study sample consists of 215,683 cases of different brain disorders and 657,164 controls.

“We find that psychiatric disorders broadly share a considerable portion of their common variant genetic risk, especially across schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, while neurological disorders are more genetically distinct,” Dr. Seshadri said.

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