Exploratory genome-wide analyses of cortical inhibition, facilitation, and plasticity in late-life depression

Rafae A. Wathra, Xiaoyu Men, Samar S.M. Elsheikh, Victoria S. Marshe, Tarek K. Rajji, Jennifer I. Lissemore, Benoit H. Mulsant, Jordan F. Karp, Charles F. Reynolds, Eric J. Lenze, Zafiris J. Daskalakis, Daniel J. Müller, Daniel M. Blumberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Late-life depression (LLD) is a heterogenous mood disorder influenced by genetic factors. Cortical physiological processes such as cortical inhibition, facilitation, and plasticity may be markers of illness that are more strongly associated with genetic factors than the clinical phenotype. Thus, exploring the relationship between genetic factors and these physiological processes may help to characterize the biological mechanisms underlying LLD and improve diagnosis and treatment selection. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) combined with electromyography was used to measure short interval intracortical inhibition (SICI), cortical silent period (CSP), intracortical facilitation (ICF), and paired associative stimulation (PAS) in 79 participants with LLD. We used exploratory genome-wide association and gene-based analyses to assess for genetic correlations of these TMS measures. MARK4 (which encodes microtubule affinity-regulating kinase 4) and PPP1R37 (which encodes protein phosphatase 1 regulatory subunit 37) showed genome-wide significant association with SICI. EGFLAM (which encodes EGF-like fibronectin type III and laminin G domain) showed genome-wide significant association with CSP. No genes met genome-wide significant association with ICF or PAS. We observed genetic influences on cortical inhibition in older adults with LLD. Replication with larger sample sizes, exploration of clinical phenotype subgroups, and functional analysis of relevant genotypes is warranted to better characterize genetic influences on cortical physiology in LLD. This work is needed to determine whether cortical inhibition may serve as a biomarker to improve diagnostic precision and guide treatment selection in LLD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number234
JournalTranslational psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


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