Causal association of depression, anxiety, cognitive performance, the brain cortical structure with pulmonary arterial hypertension: A Mendelian randomization study

J Affect Disord. 2024 Jul 1:356:356-362. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2024.01.276. Epub 2024 Apr 15.


Background: Patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) often present with anxiety, depression and cognitive deterioration. Structural changes in the cerebral cortex in PAH patients have also been reported in observational studies.

Methods: PAH genome-wide association (GWAS) including 162,962 European individuals was used to assess genetically determined PAH. GWAS summary statistics were obtained for cognitive performance, depression, anxiety and alterations in cortical thickness (TH) or surface area (SA) of the brain cortex, respectively. Two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) was performed. Finally, sensitivity analyses including Cochran's Q test, MR-Egger intercept test, leave-one-out analyses, and funnel plot was performed.

Results: PAH had no causal relationship with depression, anxiety, and cognitive performance. At the global level, PAH was not associated with SA or TH of the brain cortex; at the functional regional level, PAH increased TH of insula (P = 0.015), pars triangularis (P = 0.037) and pars opercularis (P = 0.010) without global weighted. After global weighted, PAH increased TH of insula (P = 0.004), pars triangularis (P = 0.032), pars opercularis (P = 0.007) and rostral middle frontal gyrus (P = 0.022) while reducing TH of inferior parietal (P = 0.004), superior parietal (P = 0.031) and lateral occipital gyrus (P = 0.033). No heterogeneity and pleiotropy were detected.

Limitations: The enrolled patients were all European and the causal relationship between PAH and the structure of the cerebral cortex in other populations remains unknown.

Conclusion: Causal relationship between PAH and the brain cortical structure was implied, thus providing novel insights into the PAH associated neuropsychiatric symptoms.

Keywords: Anxiety; Brain cortical structure; Cognitive performance; Depression; Mendelian randomization; Pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety* / genetics
  • Cerebral Cortex* / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex* / pathology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Depression / genetics
  • Female
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mendelian Randomization Analysis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension / genetics
  • Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension / pathology