Obesity Genes and Risk of Major Depressive Disorder in a Multiethnic Population: A Cross-Sectional Study

Objective: Observational studies have shown a positive association between obesity (body mass index [BMI] 30 kg/m2) and depression. Around 120 obesity-associated loci have been identified, but genetic variants associated with depression remain elusive. Recently, our team reported that the fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene rs9939609 obesity-risk variant is paradoxically inversely associated with the risk of depression. This finding raises the question as to whether other obesity-associated genetic variants are also associated with depression.

Method: Twenty-one obesity gene variants other than FTO were selected from a custom ~50,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) genotyping array (ITMAT-Broad-CARe array). Associations of these 21 SNPs and an unweighted genotype score with BMI and major depressive disorder (determined using the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria) were tested in 3,209 cases and 14,195 noncases, using baseline data collected from July 2001 to August 2003 from the multiethnic EpiDREAM study.

Results: Body mass index was positively associated with depression status (odds ratio [OR] = 1.02; 95% CI, 1.02–1.03 per BMI unit; P = 2.9 × 1012, adjusted for age, sex, and ethnicity). Six of 21 genetic variants (rs1514176 [TNN13K], rs2206734 [CDKAL1], rs11671664 [GIPR], rs2984618 [TAL1], rs3824755 [NT5C2], and rs7903146 [TCF7L2]) and the genotype score were significantly associated with BMI (1.47 × 1014 P .04). Of the 21 SNPs, TAL1 rs2984618 obesity-risk allele was associated with a higher risk of major depressive disorder (P = 1.79 × 104, adjusted for age, sex, BMI, and ethnicity), and BDNF rs1401635 demonstrated significant ethnic-dependent association with major depressive disorder (OR = 0.88; 95% CI, 0.80–0.97; P = .01 in non-Europeans and OR = 1.11; 95% CI, 1.02–1.20; P = .02 in Europeans; Pinteraction = 2.73 × 104). The genotype score, calculated with or without FTO rs9939609, and adjusted for the same covariates, was not associated with depression status.

Conclusions: Our data support the view that the association between obesity and major depressive disorder at the observational level may be explained, at least in part, by shared genetic factors.

J Clin Psychiatry 2015;76(12):e1611–e1618

https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.14m09720