Background: Recent genome-wide association studies have associated polymorphisms in the gene CACNA1C, which codes for Ca(v)1.2, with a bipolar disorder and depression diagnosis.
Methods: The behaviors of wild-type and Cacna1c heterozygous mice of both sexes were evaluated in a number of tests. Based upon sex differences in our mouse data, we assessed a gene × sex interaction for diagnosis of mood disorders in human subjects. Data from the National Institute of Mental Health Genetics Initiative Bipolar Disorder Consortium and the Genetics of Recurrent Early-Onset Major Depression Consortium were examined using a combined dataset that included 2021 mood disorder cases (1223 female cases) and 1840 control subjects (837 female subjects).
Results: In both male and female mice, Cacna1c haploinsufficiency was associated with lower exploratory behavior, decreased response to amphetamine, and antidepressant-like behavior in the forced swim and tail suspension tests. Female, but not male, heterozygous mice displayed decreased risk-taking behavior or increased anxiety in multiple tests, greater attenuation of amphetamine-induced hyperlocomotion, decreased development of learned helplessness, and a decreased acoustic startle response, indicating a sex-specific role of Cacna1c. In humans, sex-specific genetic association was seen for two intronic single nucleotide polymorphisms, rs2370419 and rs2470411, in CACNA1C, with effects in female subjects (odds ratio = 1.64, 1.32) but not in male subjects (odds ratio = .82, .86). The interactions by sex were significant after correction for testing 190 single nucleotide polymorphisms (p = 1.4 × 10⁻⁴, 2.1 × 10⁻⁴; p(corrected) = .03, .04) and were consistent across two large datasets.
Conclusions: Our preclinical results support a role for CACNA1C in mood disorder pathophysiology, and the combination of human genetic and preclinical data support an interaction between sex and genotype.
Copyright © 2010 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.