Investigating shared aetiology between type 2 diabetes and major depressive disorder in a population based cohort

Toni-Kim Clarke, Jana Obsteter, Lynsey S Hall, Caroline Hayward, Pippa A Thomson, Blair H Smith, Sandosh Padmanabhan, Lynne J Hocking, Ian J Deary, David J Porteous, Andrew M McIntosh

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Type II diabetes (T2D) and major depressive disorder (MDD) are often co-morbid. The reasons for this co-morbidity are unclear. Some studies have highlighted the importance of environmental factors and a causal relationship between T2D and MDD has also been postulated. In the present study we set out to investigate the shared aetiology between T2D and MDD using Mendelian randomization in a population based sample, Generation Scotland: the Scottish Family Health Study (N = 21,516). Eleven SNPs found to be associated with T2D were tested for association with MDD and psychological distress (General Health Questionnaire scores). We also assessed causality and genetic overlap between T2D and MDD using polygenic risk scores (PRS) assembled from the largest available GWAS summary statistics to date. No single T2D risk SNP was associated with MDD in the MR analyses and we did not find consistent evidence of genetic overlap between MDD and T2D in the PRS analyses. Linkage disequilibrium score regression analyses supported these findings as no genetic correlation was observed between T2D and MDD (rG = 0.0278 (S.E. 0.11), P-value = 0.79). As suggested by previous studies, T2D and MDD covariance may be better explained by environmental factors. Future studies would benefit from analyses in larger cohorts where stratifying by sex and looking more closely at MDD cases demonstrating metabolic dysregulation is possible. © 2016 The Authors. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-234
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics. Part B, Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Issue number3
Early online date2 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017

Bibliographical note


We are grateful to the families who took part in GS:SFHS, the GPs and Scottish School of Primary Care for their help in recruiting them, and the whole GS team, which includes academic researchers, clinic staff, laboratory technicians, clerical workers, IT staff, statisticians and research managers. This work is supported by the Wellcome Trust through a Strategic Award, reference 104036/Z/14/Z. The Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council provided core support for Generation Scotland. GS:SFHS was funded by a grant from the Scottish Government Health Department, Chief Scientist Office, number CZD/16/6. We acknowledge with gratitude the financial support received for this work from the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation. PT, DJP, IJD, and AMM are members of The University of Edinburgh Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, part of the cross council Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Initiative (MR/K026992/1). Funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Medical Research Council is gratefully acknowledged.


  • depression
  • type 2 diabetes
  • genetics
  • polygenic


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