Genetic association of the GDNF alpha-receptor genes with schizophrenia and clozapine response
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GDNF (glial-cell-line derived neurotrophic factor) is a potent neurotrophic factor for dopaminergic neurons. Neuropsychiatric diseases and their treatments are associated with alterations in the levels of both GDNF and its receptor family (GDNF family receptor alpha or GFRA). GFRA1, GFRA2 and GFRA3 are located in chromosomal regions with suggestive linkage to schizophrenia. In this study we analyzed polymorphisms located in all four known GFRA genes and examined association with schizophrenia and clozapine response. We examined SNPs across the genes GFRA1-4 in 219 matched case-control subjects, 85 small nuclear families and 140 schizophrenia patients taking clozapine for 6months. We observed that GFRA3 rs11242417 and GFRA1 rs11197557 variants were significantly associated with schizophrenia after combining results from both schizophrenia samples. Furthermore, we found an overtransmission of the G-C GFRA1 rs7920934-rs730357 haplotype to subjects with schizophrenia and association of A-T-G-G GFRA3 rs10036665-rs10952-rs11242417-rs7726580 with schizophrenia in the case-control sample. On the other hand, GFRA2 variants were not associated with schizophrenia diagnosis but subjects carrying T-G-G rs1128397-rs13250096-rs4567028 haplotype were more likely to respond to clozapine treatment. The statistical significance of results survived permutation testing but not Bonferroni correction. We also found nominally-significant evidence for interactions between GFRA1, 2 and 3 associated with schizophrenia and clozapine response, consistent with the locations of these three genes within linkage regions for schizophrenia.
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