Association Between Polygenic Risk Scores and Outcome of ECT

Am J Psychiatry. 2022 Nov 1;179(11):844-852. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.22010045. Epub 2022 Sep 7.


Objective: Identifying biomarkers associated with response to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may aid clinical decisions. The authors examined whether greater polygenic liabilities for major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia are associated with improvement following ECT for a major depressive episode.

Methods: Between 2013 and 2017, patients who had at least one treatment series recorded in the Swedish National Quality Register for ECT were invited to provide a blood sample for genotyping. The present study included 2,320 participants (median age, 51 years; 62.8% women) who had received an ECT series for a major depressive episode (77.1% unipolar depression), who had a registered treatment outcome, and whose polygenic risk scores (PRSs) could be calculated. Ordinal logistic regression was used to estimate the effect of PRS on Clinical Global Impressions improvement scale (CGI-I) score after each ECT series.

Results: Greater PRS for major depressive disorder was significantly associated with less improvement on the CGI-I (odds ratio per standard deviation, 0.89, 95% CI=0.82, 0.96; R2=0.004), and greater PRS for bipolar disorder was associated with greater improvement on the CGI-I (odds ratio per standard deviation, 1.14, 95% CI=1.05, 1.23; R2=0.005) after ECT. PRS for schizophrenia was not associated with improvement. In an overlapping sample (N=1,207) with data on response and remission derived from the self-rated version of the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale, results were similar except that schizophrenia PRS was also associated with remission.

Conclusions: Improvement after ECT is associated with polygenic liability for major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder, providing evidence of a genetic component for ECT clinical response. These liabilities may be considered along with clinical predictors in future prediction models of ECT outcomes.

Keywords: Bipolar and Related Disorders; Depressive Disorders; Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT); Genetics/Genomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder* / drug therapy
  • Bipolar Disorder* / therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / therapy
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Schizophrenia* / genetics
  • Schizophrenia* / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome