Discovery and replication of dopamine-related gene effects on caudate volume in young and elderly populations (N=1198) using genome-wide search

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The caudate is a subcortical brain structure implicated in many common neurological and psychiatric disorders. To identify specific genes associated with variations in caudate volume, structural magnetic resonance imaging and genome-wide genotypes were acquired from two large cohorts, the Alzheimer's Disease NeuroImaging Initiative (ADNI; N=734) and the Brisbane Adolescent/Young Adult Longitudinal Twin Study (BLTS; N=464). In a preliminary analysis of heritability, around 90% of the variation in caudate volume was due to genetic factors. We then conducted genome-wide association to find common variants that contribute to this relatively high heritability. Replicated genetic association was found for the right caudate volume at single-nucleotide polymorphism rs163030 in the ADNI discovery sample (P=2.36 × 10−6) and in the BLTS replication sample (P=0.012). This genetic variation accounted for 2.79 and 1.61% of the trait variance, respectively. The peak of association was found in and around two genes, WDR41 and PDE8B, involved in dopamine signaling and development. In addition, a previously identified mutation in PDE8B causes a rare autosomal-dominant type of striatal degeneration. Searching across both samples offers a rigorous way to screen for genes consistently influencing brain structure at different stages of life. Variants identified here may be relevant to common disorders affecting the caudate.

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Data collection and sharing for this project was funded by the Alzheimer′s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) (National Institutes of Health Grant U01 AG024904). ADNI is funded by the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, and through generous contributions from the following: Abbott, AstraZeneca AB, Bayer Schering Pharma AG, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eisai Global Clinical Development, Elan Corporation, Genentech, GE Healthcare, GlaxoSmithKline, Innogenetics, Johnson and Johnson, Eli Lilly and Co., Medpace, Inc., Merck and Co., Inc., Novartis AG, Pfizer Inc., F Hoffman-La Roche, Schering-Plough, Synarc, Inc., as well as non-profit partners the Alzheimer's Association and Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation, with participation from the US Food and Drug Administration. Private sector contributions to ADNI are facilitated by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health ( The grantee organization is the Northern California Institute for Research and Education, and the study is coordinated by the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study at the University of California, San Diego, CA, USA. ADNI data are disseminated by the Laboratory for Neuro Imaging at the University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA. This research was also supported by NIH grants P30 AG010129, K01 AG030514, and the Dana Foundation. Algorithm development for this study was also funded by the NIA, NIBIB, NICHD, the National Library of Medicine, and the National Center for Research Resources (AG016570, EB01651, LM05639, RR019771, EB008432, EB008281 and EB007813, to PMT). The BTLS study was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01 HD050735), and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC 486682), Australia. Genotyping was supported by NHMRC (389875). JLS was also funded by the ARCS foundation and the NIMH (1F31MH087061).

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Correspondence to P M Thompson.

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  • caudate
  • dopamine
  • genome-wide association
  • heritability
  • PDE8B
  • WDR41

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