Interaction between adverse childhood experiences and polygenic risk in patients with bipolar disorder

Transl Psychiatry. 2020 Sep 22;10(1):326. doi: 10.1038/s41398-020-01010-1.


The interaction between genes and environment often occurs when they depend on one another. We hypothesized that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) would interact with genetic predispositions to bipolar disorder (BD), demonstrating earlier age at onset (AAO) and worse clinical outcomes. We aimed to clarify the effects of the interaction between ACEs and genetic susceptibility using polygenic risk score (PRS) on AAO and clinical outcomes. Single nucleotide polymorphisms and clinical data, including ACEs, were obtained from the Bipolar Genomic Study, which contains a large sample of BD participants. A total of 1615 subjects with BD I were obtained and divided into two groups according to the presence or absence of ACEs and an additional four groups based on the number of ACEs (none versus one versus two versus ≥ three types). ACEs was evaluated using the childhood life events scale (CLES). BD-PRS was obtained from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, which compared BD patients and healthy controls. The BD-PRS was higher in the group with ACEs than without ACEs at most p-value thresholds. In multivariate linear regression analyses, both groups with more ACEs and higher BD-PRS were independently and interactively associated with an earlier AAO of BD; however, only greater ACEs were associated with worsened clinical outcome. These findings highlight the clinical importance of evaluating ACEs and polygenic risk in research of the etiology of BD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences*
  • Age of Onset
  • Bipolar Disorder* / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Multifactorial Inheritance