Genome-wide association studies of brain structure and function in the UK Biobank
Elliott L., Sharp K., Alfaro-Almagro F., Shi S., Miller K., Douaud G., Marchini J., Smith S.
The genetic basis of brain structure and function is largely unknown. We carried out genome-wide association studies of 3,144 distinct functional and structural brain imaging derived phenotypes in UK Biobank (discovery dataset 8,428 subjects). We show that many of these phenotypes are heritable. We identify 148 clusters of SNP-imaging associations with lead SNPs that replicate at p<0.05, when we would expect 21 to replicate by chance. Notable significant and interpretable associations include: iron transport and storage genes, related to changes in T2* in subcortical regions; extracellular matrix and the epidermal growth factor genes, associated with white matter micro-structure and lesion volume; genes regulating mid-line axon guidance development associated with pontine crossing tract organisation; and overall 17 genes involved in development, pathway signalling and plasticity. Our results provide new insight into the genetic architecture of the brain with relevance to complex neurological and psychiatric disorders, as well as brain development and aging. The full set of results is available on the interactive Oxford Brain Imaging Genetics (BIG) web browser.