Background: Childhood-onset schizophrenia (COS), defined as onset of psychotic symptoms by age 12 years, is a rare and severe form of the disorder that seems to be clinically and neurobiologically continuous with the adult disorder.
Methods: We studied a rare cohort consisting of 98 probands; 71 of these probands received a DSM-defined diagnosis of schizophrenia, and the remaining 27 were diagnosed as psychosis not otherwise specified (NOS) (upon 2-6 year follow-up, 13 have subsequently developed bipolar disorder). Two overlapping genes, G72 and G30 on 13q33.2, were identified through linkage-disequilibrium-based positional cloning. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at the G72/G30 locus were independently associated with both bipolar illness and schizophrenia. We analyzed SNPs at this locus with a family-based transmission disequilibrium test (TDT) and haplotype analyses for the discrete trait, as well as quantitative TDT for intermediate phenotypes, using the 88 probands (including COS and psychosis-NOS) with parental participation.
Results: We observed significant pairwise and haplotype associations between SNPs at the G72/G30 locus and psychotic illness. Furthermore, these markers showed associations with scores on a premorbid phenotype measured by the Autism Screening Questionnaire, and with age of onset.
Conclusions: These findings, although limited by potential referral bias, confirm and strengthen previous reports that G72/G30 is a susceptibility locus both for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.