medRxiv [Preprint]. 2024 May 21:2024.05.21.24307678. doi: 10.1101/2024.05.21.24307678.


BACKGROUND: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a prevalent and debilitating disorder that has been associated with a range of risk factors and outcomes. Causal pathways between MDD and other traits can be studied using genetic variants as instrumental variables.

METHODS: A literature review was conducted to identify 201 MDD-associated traits. For 115 traits, there were well-powered genome-wide association study (GWAS) results available that could be used to assess the genetic correlation with MDD. Of these, there were 89 meeting criteria for investigating causal associations in both directions using two-sample Mendelian randomization (TSMR). Of the traits that were not captured by GWAS, 43 could be included as outcomes of MDD using one-sample MR (OSMR). A range of methods and sensitivity tests was applied to gauge robustness of results, together with statistical power analyses to aid interpretation.

OUTCOMES: Moderate to strong genetic overlap was found between MDD and most traits. Support for causal effects of MDD liability were found for circadian, cognitive, diet, medical disease, endocrine, functional, inflammatory, metabolic, mortality, physical activity, reproduction, risk behavior, social, socioeconomic, and suicide outcomes. Most associations were bidirectional, although there was less evidence for diet, disease, and endocrine traits causing MDD risk. Results were robust across sensitivity analyses.

INTERPRETATION: This study provides a systematic overview of traits putatively causally related to MDD, confirming previous findings as well as identifying new associations. Our results highlight the importance of MDD as a risk factor cross-cutting across medical, functional, and psychosocial domains and emphasize the need for concerted efforts at reducing this highly prevalent disorder.

PMID:38826420 | PMC:PMC11142270 | DOI:10.1101/2024.05.21.24307678