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Maria Speed

Genetic liability to bipolar disorder and body mass index: A bidirectional two-sample mendelian randomization study

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Objectives: Bipolar disorder is associated with increased body mass index (BMI), but it remains undetermined if this association is causal and, if so, in which direction it goes. Here, we sought to answer these questions using bidirectional two-sample Mendelian randomization, a method from genetic epidemiology that uses data from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to examine whether a risk factor is causal for an outcome. Methods: We used summary statistics from GWAS of bipolar disorder and BMI conducted using data collected by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium and the UK Biobank, respectively. The genetic instrument for bipolar disorder contained 53 SNPs and explained 0.5% of phenotypic variance, while the genetic instrument for BMI contained 517 SNPs and explained 7.1% of phenotypic variance. Results: Our findings suggest that genetic liability to bipolar disorder reduces BMI (slope from Egger regression = −0.195, p = 0.004). It follows that a twofold increase in the genetic liability to bipolar disorder leads to a 0.6 (kg/m 2) reduction in BMI, predominantly driven by reduced fat mass. Conversely, we found no evidence that BMI causes changes in the risk of developing bipolar disorder. Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that the increased BMI observed among individuals with bipolar disorder is not a direct consequence of genetic liability to bipolar disorder, but may more likely represent the sum of downstream correlates of manifest bipolar disorder, such as side effects of pharmacological treatment, poor diet, and sedentary lifestyle. As these factors are all modifiable, they can be targeted as part of clinical management.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBipolar Disorders
Pages (from-to)25-31
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

    Research areas

  • bipolar disorder, body mass index, mendelian randomization analysis, obesity

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