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Publication - Professor Marcus Munafo

    Investigating causality in associations between smoking initiation and schizophrenia using Mendelian randomization

    Citation

    Gage, SH, Jones, HJ, Taylor, AE, Burgess, S, Zammit, S & Munafò, MR, 2017, ‘Investigating causality in associations between smoking initiation and schizophrenia using Mendelian randomization’. Scientific Reports, vol 7.

    Abstract

    Smoking is strongly associated with schizophrenia. Although it has been widely assumed that this reflects self-medication, recent studies suggest that smoking may be a risk factor for schizophrenia. We performed a two-sample bi-directional Mendelian randomisation study using summary level genomewide association data from the Tobacco and Genetics Consortium and Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. Variants associated with smoking initiation and schizophrenia were combined using an inverse-variance weight fixed-effects approach. We found evidence consistent with a causal effect of smoking initiation on schizophrenia risk (OR 1.71, 95% CI 1.30, 2.25, p<0.001). However, after relaxing the p-value threshold to include variants from more than one gene and minimize the potential impact of pleiotropy, the association was attenuated (OR 1.03, 95% CI 0.97, 1.09, p=0.32). There was little evidence in support of a causal effect of schizophrenia on smoking initiation (OR 1.01, 95%CI 0.98-1.04, p=0.32). MR Egger regression sensitivity analysis indicated no evidence for pleiotropy in the effect of schizophrenia on smoking initiation (intercept OR 1.01, 95%CI 0.99-1.02, p=0.49). Our findings provide little evidence of a causal association between smoking initiation and schizophrenia, in either direction. However, we cannot rule out a causal effect of smoking on schizophrenia (or vice versa) related to heavier, lifetime exposure, rather than initiation.

    Full details in the University publications repository