Background: There is emerging evidence that there are shared genetic, environmental and developmental risk factors in psychiatry, that cut across traditional diagnostic boundaries. With this background, the Discovery biology of neuropsychiatric syndromes (DBNS) proposes to recruit patients from five different syndromes (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, Alzheimer's dementia and substance use disorders), identify those with multiple affected relatives, and invite these families to participate in this study. The families will be assessed: 1) To compare neuro-endophenotype measures between patients, first degree relatives (FDR) and healthy controls., 2) To identify cellular phenotypes which differentiate the groups., 3) To examine the longitudinal course of neuro-endophenotype measures., 4) To identify measures which correlate with outcome, and 5) To create a unified digital database and biorepository.
Methods: The identification of the index participants will occur at well-established specialty clinics. The selected individuals will have a strong family history (with at least another affected FDR) of mental illness. We will also recruit healthy controls without family history of such illness. All recruited individuals (N = 4500) will undergo brief clinical assessments and a blood sample will be drawn for isolation of DNA and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). From among this set, a subset of 1500 individuals (300 families and 300 controls) will be assessed on several additional assessments [detailed clinical assessments, endophenotype measures (neuroimaging- structural and functional, neuropsychology, psychophysics-electroencephalography, functional near infrared spectroscopy, eye movement tracking)], with the intention of conducting repeated measurements every alternate year. PBMCs from this set will be used to generate lymphoblastoid cell lines, and a subset of these would be converted to induced pluripotent stem cell lines and also undergo whole exome sequencing.
Discussion: We hope to identify unique and overlapping brain endophenotypes for major psychiatric syndromes. In a proportion of subjects, we expect these neuro-endophenotypes to progress over time and to predict treatment outcome. Similarly, cellular assays could differentiate cell lines derived from such groups. The repository of biomaterials as well as digital datasets of clinical parameters, will serve as a valuable resource for the broader scientific community who wish to address research questions in the area.
Keywords: Addiction; Biorepository; Bipolar disorder; Dementia; Endophenotypes; Neuroimaging; Obsessive compulsive disorder; Pluripotent stem cells; Psychiatry; Schizophrenia.