Mood-Stabilizing Antiepileptic Treatment Response in Bipolar Disorder: A Genome-Wide Association Study

Ada Man Choi Ho, Brandon J. Coombes, Thanh Thanh L. Nguyen, Duan Liu, Susan L. McElroy, Balwinder Singh, Malik Nassan, Colin L. Colby, Beth R. Larrabee, Richard M. Weinshilboum, Mark A. Frye, Joanna M. Biernacka*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Several antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) have US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use as mood stabilizers in bipolar disorder (BD), but not all BD patients respond to these AED mood stabilizers (AED-MSs). To identify genetic polymorphisms that contribute to the variability in AED-MS response, we performed a discovery genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 199 BD patients from the Mayo Clinic Bipolar Disorder Biobank. Most of these patients had been treated with the AED-MS valproate/divalproex and/or lamotrigine. AED-MS response was assessed using the Alda scale, which quantifies clinical improvement while accounting for potential confounding factors. We identified two genome-wide significant single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) signals that mapped to the THSD7A (rs78835388, P = 7.1E-09) and SLC35F3 (rs114872993, P = 3.2E-08) genes. We also identified two genes with statistically significant gene-level associations: ABCC1 (P = 6.7E-07; top SNP rs875740, P = 2.0E-6), and DISP1 (P = 8.9E-07; top SNP rs34701716, P = 8.9E-07). THSD7A SNPs were previously found to be associated with risk for several psychiatric disorders, including BD. Both THSD7A and SLC35F3 are expressed in excitatory/glutamatergic and inhibitory/γ-aminobutyric acidergic (GABAergic) neurons, which are targets of AED-MSs. ABCC1 is involved in the transport of valproate and lamotrigine metabolites, and the SNPs in ABCC1 and DISP1 with the strongest evidence of association in our GWAS are strong splicing quantitative trait loci in the human gut, suggesting a possible influence on drug absorption. In conclusion, our pharmacogenomic study identified novel genetic loci that appear to contribute to AED-MS treatment response, and may facilitate precision medicine in BD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1233-1242
Number of pages10
JournalClinical pharmacology and therapeutics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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