Psychiatric disorders impose a huge health and economic burden on modern society. However, there is currently no proven completely effective treatment available, partly owing to the inefficiency of drug target identification and validation. We aim to identify therapeutic targets relevant to psychiatric disorders by conducting Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis.
We performed genome-wide MR analysis by integrating expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) of 4479 actionable genes that encode druggable proteins and genetic summary statistics from genome-wide association studies of psychiatric disorders. After conducting colocalization analysis on the brain MR findings, we employed protein quantitative trait loci (pQTL) data as genetic proposed instruments for intersecting the colocalized genes to provide further genetic evidence.
By performing MR and colocalization analysis with eQTL genetic instruments, we obtained 31 promising drug targets for psychiatric disorders, including 21 significant genes for schizophrenia, 7 for bipolar disorder, 2 for depression, 1 for attention deficit and hyperactivity (ADHD) and none for autism spectrum disorder. Combining MR results using pQTL genetic instruments, we finally proposed 8 drug-targeting genes supported by the strongest MR evidence, including gene ACE, BTN3A3, HAPLN4, MAPK3 and NEK4 for schizophrenia, gene NEK4 and HAPLN4 for bipolar disorder, and gene TIE1 for ADHD.
Our findings with genetic support were more likely to be to succeed in clinical trials. In addition, our study prioritizes approved drug targets for the development of new therapies and provides critical drug reuse opportunities for psychiatric disorders.