Eur J Hum Genet. 2024 Mar 11. doi: 10.1038/s41431-024-01581-3. Online ahead of print.


Intellectual disability (ID) is a common disorder, yet there is a wide spectrum of impairment from mild to profoundly affected individuals. Mild ID is seen as the low extreme of the general distribution of intelligence, while severe ID is often seen as a monogenic disorder caused by rare, pathogenic, highly penetrant variants. To investigate the genetic factors influencing mild and severe ID, we evaluated rare and common variation in the Northern Finland Intellectual Disability cohort (n = 1096 ID patients), a cohort with a high percentage of mild ID (n = 550) and from a population bottleneck enriched in rare, damaging variation. Despite this enrichment, we found only a small percentage of ID was due to recessive Finnish-enriched variants (0.5%). A larger proportion was linked to dominant variation, with a significant burden of rare, damaging variation in both mild and severe ID. This rare variant burden was enriched in more severe ID (p = 2.4e-4), patients without a relative with ID (p = 4.76e-4), and in those with features associated with monogenic disorders. We also found a significant burden of common variants associated with decreased cognitive function, with no difference between mild and more severe ID. When we included common and rare variants in a joint model, the rare and common variants had additive effects in both mild and severe ID. A multimodel inference approach also found that common and rare variants together best explained ID status (ΔAIC = 16.8, ΔBIC = 10.2). Overall, we report evidence for the additivity of rare and common variant burden throughout the spectrum of intellectual disability.

PMID:38467730 | DOI:10.1038/s41431-024-01581-3