Some of the inherited variants implicated in autism also increase the odds of other conditions, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new study.
“These disorders, which we think of as very clinically different, might be related at the level of their genetic basis,” says lead investigator Jordan Smoller, associate chief for research in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Smoller and his colleagues analyzed data from 727,126 people, about one-third of whom have one or more of eight psychiatric conditions. The team focused on so-called common variants — single-letter changes to DNA that appear in 1 percent or more of the population.
The team linked 146 variants to least one condition, and most of them to multiple conditions.
“More and more, the picture that’s emerging is that there are multiple [variants] associated with, let’s say, a psychiatric vulnerability that is not specific to one disorder,” says Tinca Polderman, assistant professor of complex trait genetics at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands, who was not involved in the work. “Whether it develops into autism or [something else] may have to do with other factors.”
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