COVID-19 patient transcriptomic and genomic profiling reveals comorbidity interactions with psychiatric disorders

Mohammad Ali Moni, Ping I. Lin, Julian M.W. Quinn, Valsamma Eapen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
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Psychiatric symptoms are seen in some COVID-19 patients, as direct or indirect sequelae, but it is unclear whether SARS-CoV-2 infection interacts with underlying neuronal or psychiatric susceptibilities. Such interactions might arise from COVID-19 immune responses, from infection of neurons themselves or may reflect social-psychological causes. To clarify this we sought the key gene expression pathways altered in COVID-19 also affected in bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia, since this may identify pathways of interaction that could be treatment targets. We performed large scale comparisons of whole transcriptome data and immune factor transcript data in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from COVID-19 patients and patients with psychiatric disorders. We also analysed genome-wide association study (GWAS) data for symptomatic COVID-19 patients, comparing GWAS and whole-genome sequence data from patients with bipolar disorder, PTSD and schizophrenia patients. These studies revealed altered signalling and ontology pathways shared by COVID-19 patients and the three psychiatric disorders. Finally, co-expression and network analyses identified gene clusters common to the conditions. COVID-19 patients had peripheral blood immune system profiles that overlapped with those of patients with psychiatric conditions. From the pathways identified, PTSD profiles were the most highly correlated with COVID-19, perhaps consistent with stress-immune system interactions seen in PTSD. We also revealed common inflammatory pathways that may exacerbate psychiatric disorders, which may support the usage of anti-inflammatory medications in these patients. It also highlights the potential clinical application of multi-level dataset studies in difficult-to-treat psychiatric disorders in this COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number160
Number of pages13
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


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