Importance: Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) in European populations have identified more than 100 schizophrenia-associated loci. A schizophrenia GWAS in a unique Indian population offers novel findings.
Objective: To discover and functionally evaluate genetic loci for schizophrenia in a GWAS of a unique Indian population.
Design, Setting, and Participants: This GWAS included a sample of affected individuals, family members, and unrelated cases and controls. Three thousand ninety-two individuals were recruited and diagnostically ascertained via medical records, hospitals, clinics, and clinical networks in Chennai and surrounding regions. Affected participants fulfilled DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia. Unrelated control participants had no personal or family history of psychotic disorder. Recruitment, genotyping, and analysis occurred in consecutive phases beginning January 1, 2001. Recruitment was completed on February 28, 2018, and genotyping and analysis are ongoing.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Associations of single-nucleotide polymorphisms and gene expression with schizophrenia.
Results: The study population included 1321 participants with schizophrenia, 885 family controls, and 886 unrelated controls. Among participants with schizophrenia, mean (SD) age was 39.1 (11.4) years, and 52.7% were male. This sample demonstrated uniform ethnicity, a degree of inbreeding, and negligible rates of substance abuse. A novel genome-wide significant association was observed between schizophrenia and a chromosome 8q24.3 locus (rs10866912, allele A; odds ratio [OR], 1.27 [95% CI, 1.17-1.38]; P = 4.35 × 10-8) that attracted support in the schizophrenia Psychiatric Genomics Consortium 2 data (rs10866912, allele A; OR, 1.04 [95% CI, 1.02-1.06]; P = 7.56 × 10-4). This locus has undergone natural selection, with the risk allele A declining in frequency from India (approximately 72%) to Europe (approximately 43%). rs10866912 directly modifies the abundance of the nicotinate phosphoribosyltransferase gene (NAPRT1) transcript in brain cortex (normalized effect size, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.6-1.0; P = 5.8 × 10-13). NAPRT1 encodes a key enzyme for niacin metabolism. In Indian lymphoblastoid cell lines, (risk) allele A of rs10866912 was associated with NAPRT1 downregulation (AA: 0.74, n = 21; CC: 1.56, n = 17; P = .004). Preliminary zebrafish data further suggest that partial loss of function of NAPRT1 leads to abnormal brain development.
Conclusions and Relevance: Bioinformatic analyses and cellular and zebrafish gene expression studies implicate NAPRT1 as a novel susceptibility gene. Given this gene's role in niacin metabolism and the evidence for niacin deficiency provoking schizophrenialike symptoms in neuropsychiatric diseases such as pellagra and Hartnup disease, these results suggest that the rs10866912 genotype and niacin status may have implications for schizophrenia susceptibility and treatment.