Ursini et al reported recently that the liability of schizophrenia explained by a polygenic risk score (PRS) derived from the variants most associated with schizophrenia was increased 5-fold in individuals who experienced complications during pregnancy or birth. Follow-up gene expression analysis showed that the genes mapping to the most associated genetic variants are highly expressed in placental tissues. If confirmed, these findings will have major implications in our understanding of the joint effect of genes and environment in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. We examined the interplay between PRS and obstetric complications (OCs) in 5 independent samples (effective N = 2110). OCs were assessed with the full or modified Lewis-Murray scale, or with birth weight < 2.5 kg as a proxy. In a large cohort we tested whether the pathways from placenta-relevant variants in the original report were associated with case-control status. Unlike in the original study, we did not find significant effect of PRS on the presence of OCs in cases, nor a substantial difference in the association of PRS with case-control status in samples stratified by the presence of OCs. Furthermore, none of the PRS by OCs interactions were significant, nor were any of the biological pathways, examined in the Swedish cohort. Our study could not support the hypothesis of a mediating effect of placenta biology in the pathway from genes to schizophrenia. Methodology differences, in particular the different scales measuring OCs, as well as power constraints for interaction analyses in both studies, may explain this discrepancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-26
Number of pages7
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number1
Early online date14 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2022


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