Prescription opioid use and risk for major depressive disorder: a multivariable Mendelian randomization analysis

Daniel B. Rosoff, George Davey Smith, Falk W Lohoff*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Importance Growing evidence suggests that prescription opioid use affects depression and anxiety disorders; however, observational studies are subject to confounding, making causal inference and determining the direction of these associations difficult. Objective To investigate the potential bidirectional associations between the genetic liability for prescription opioid and other nonopioid pain medications and both major depressive disorder (MDD) and anxiety and stress-related disorders (ASRD) using genetically based methods. Design, Setting, and Participants We performed 2-sample mendelian randomization (MR) using summary statistics from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to assess potential associations of self-reported prescription opioid and nonopioid analgesics, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen-like derivatives use with MDD and ASRD. The GWAS data were derived from participants of predominantly European ancestry included in observational cohorts. Data were analyzed February 20, 2020, to May 4, 2020. Main Outcomes and Measures Major depressive disorder, ASRD, and self-reported pain medications (opioids, NSAIDs, anilides, and salicylic acid). Results The GWAS data were derived from participants of predominantly European ancestry included in the population-based UK Biobank and Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research studies: approximately 54% of the initial UK Biobank sample and 55.6% of the Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research sample selected for the ASRD GWAS were women. In a combined sample size of 737 473 study participants, single-variable MR showed that genetic liability for increased prescription opioid use was associated with increased risk of both MDD (odds ratio [OR] per unit increase in log odds opioid use, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.06-1.22; P < .001) and ASRD (OR, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.07-1.44; P = .004). Using multivariable MR, these opioid use estimates remained after accounting for other nonopioid pain medications (MDD OR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.04-1.25; P = .005; ASRD OR, 1.30; 95% CI, 1.08-1.46; P = .006), and in separate models, accounting for comorbid pain conditions. Bidirectional analyses showed that genetic liability for MDD but not ASRD was associated with increased prescription opioid use risk (OR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.08-1.30; P < .001). These estimates were generally consistent across single-variable and multivariable inverse variance–weighted (MV-IVW) and MR-Egger sensitivity analyses. Pleiotropy-robust methods did not indicate bias in any MV-IVW estimates. Conclusions and Relevance The findings of this mendelian randomization analysis suggest evidence for potential causal associations between the genetic liability for increased prescription opioid use and the risk for MDD and ASRD. While replication studies are necessary, these findings may inform prevention and intervention strategies directed toward the opioid epidemic and depression.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalJAMA Psychiatry
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2020

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