Contribution of Rare Copy Number Variants to Bipolar Disorder Risk Is Limited to Schizoaffective Cases

Alexander W. Charney, Eli A. Stahl, Elaine K. Green, Chia Yen Chen, Jennifer L. Moran, Kimberly Chambert, Richard A. Belliveau, Liz Forty, Katherine Gordon-Smith, Phil H. Lee, Evelyn J. Bromet, Peter F. Buckley, Michael A. Escamilla, Ayman H. Fanous, Laura J. Fochtmann, Douglas S. Lehrer, Dolores Malaspina, Stephen R. Marder, Christopher P. Morley, Humberto NicoliniDiana O. Perkins, Jeffrey J. Rakofsky, Mark H. Rapaport, Helena Medeiros, Janet L. Sobell, Lena Backlund, Sarah E. Bergen, Anders Juréus, Martin Schalling, Paul Lichtenstein, James A. Knowles, Katherine E. Burdick, Ian Jones, Lisa A. Jones, Christina M. Hultman, Roy Perlis, Shaun M. Purcell, Steven A. McCarroll, Carlos N. Pato, Michele T. Pato, Ariana Di Florio, Nick Craddock, Mikael Landén, Jordan W. Smoller, Douglas M. Ruderfer, Pamela Sklar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Background: Genetic risk for bipolar disorder (BD) is conferred through many common alleles, while a role for rare copy number variants (CNVs) is less clear. Subtypes of BD including schizoaffective disorder bipolar type (SAB), bipolar I disorder (BD I), and bipolar II disorder (BD II) differ according to the prominence and timing of psychosis, mania, and depression. The genetic factors contributing to the combination of symptoms among these subtypes are poorly understood. Methods: Rare large CNVs were analyzed in 6353 BD cases (3833 BD I [2676 with psychosis, 850 without psychosis, and 307 with unknown psychosis history], 1436 BD II, 579 SAB, and 505 BD not otherwise specified) and 8656 controls. CNV burden and a polygenic risk score (PRS) for schizophrenia were used to evaluate the relative contributions of rare and common variants to risk of BD, BD subtypes, and psychosis. Results: CNV burden did not differ between BD and controls when treated as a single diagnostic entity. However, burden in SAB was increased relative to controls (p = .001), BD I (p = .0003), and BD II (p = .0007). Burden and schizophrenia PRSs were increased in SAB compared with BD I with psychosis (CNV p = .0007, PRS p = .004), and BD I without psychosis (CNV p = .0004, PRS p = 3.9 × 10−5). Within BD I, psychosis was associated with increased schizophrenia PRSs (p = .005) but not CNV burden. Conclusions: CNV burden in BD is limited to SAB. Rare and common genetic variants may contribute differently to risk for psychosis and perhaps other classes of psychiatric symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-119
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Jul 2019


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Copy number variant
  • Genetics
  • Polygenic risk score
  • Rare variant burden
  • Schizophrenia


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