Objective: Schizophrenia following a traumatic brain injury could be a phenocopy of genetic schizophrenia or the consequence of a gene-environment interaction. Alternatively, traumatic brain injury and schizophrenia could be spuriously associated if those who are predisposed to develop schizophrenia have greater amounts of trauma for other reasons. The authors investigated the relationship between traumatic brain injury and psychiatric diagnoses in a large group of subjects from families with at least two biologically related first-degree relatives with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder. Method: The Diagnostic Interview for Genetic Studies was used to determine history of traumatic brain injury and diagnosis for 1,275 members of multiplex bipolar disorder pedigrees and 565 members of multiplex schizophrenia pedigrees. Results: Rates of traumatic brain injury were significantly higher for those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression than for those with no mental illness. However, multivariate analysis of within-pedigree data showed that mental illness was related to traumatic brain injury only in the schizophrenia pedigrees. Independent of diagnoses, family members of those with schizophrenia were more likely to have had traumatic brain injury than were members of the bipolar disorder pedigrees. The members of the schizophrenia pedigrees also failed to show the gender difference for traumatic brain injury (more common in men than in women) that was expected and was present in the bipolar disorder pedigrees. Subjects with a schizophrenia diagnosis who were members of the bipolar disorder pedigrees (and thus had less genetic vulnerability to schizophrenia) were less likely to have had traumatic brain injury (4.5%) than were subjects with schizophrenia who were members of the schizophrenia pedigrees (and who had greater genetic vulnerability to schizophrenia) (19.6%). Conclusions: Members of the schizophrenia pedigrees, even those without a schizophrenia diagnosis, had greater exposure to traumatic brain injury compared to members of the bipolar disorder pedigrees. Within the schizophrenia pedigrees, traumatic brain injury was associated with a greater risk of schizophrenia, consistent with synergistic effects between genetic vulnerability for schizophrenia and traumatic brain injury. Posttraumatic-brain-injury schizophrenia in multiplex schizophrenia pedigrees does not appear to be a phenocopy of the genetic disorder.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health