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Original Research

Identifying Pediatric Mood Disorders From Transdiagnostic Polygenic Risk Scores: A Study of Children and Adolescents

Eric J. Barnett, BSca; Joseph Biederman, MDb,c; Alysa E. Doyle, PhDc,d; Jonathan Hess, PhDe; Maura DiSalvo, MPHb; and Stephen V. Faraone, PhDa,e,*

Published: April 20, 2022


Objective: Mood disorders often co-occur with attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder (ADHD), disruptive behavior disorders (DBDs), and aggression. We aimed to determine if polygenic risk scores (PRSs) based on external genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of these disorders could improve genetic identification of mood disorders.

Methods: We combined 6 independent family studies that had genetic data and diagnoses for mood disorders that were made using different editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). We identified mood disorders, either concurrently or in the future, in participants between 6 and 17 years of age using PRSs calculated using summary statistics of GWASs for ADHD, ADHD with DBD, major depressive disorder (MDD), bipolar disorder (BPD), and aggression to compute PRSs.

Results: In our sample of 485 youths, 356 (73%) developed a subthreshold or full mood disorder and 129 (27%) did not. The cross-validated mean areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUCs) for the 7 models identifying participants with any mood disorder ranged from 0.552 in the base model of age and sex to 0.648 in the base model + all 5 PRSs. When included in the base model individually, the ADHD PRS (OR = 1.65, P < .001), Aggression PRS (OR = 1.27, P = .02), and MDD PRS (OR = 1.23, P = .047) were significantly associated with the development of any mood disorder.

Conclusions: Using PRSs for ADHD, MDD, BPD, DBDs, and aggression, we could modestly identify the presence of mood disorders. These findings extend evidence for transdiagnostic genetic components of psychiatric illness and demonstrate that PRSs calculated using traditional diagnostic boundaries can be useful within a transdiagnostic framework.

Volume: 83

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