Recent natural selection conferred protection against schizophrenia by non-antagonistic pleiotropy

González-Peñas, J., De Hoyos, L., Díaz-Caneja, C. M., Andreu-Bernabeu, Á., Stella, C., Gurriarán, X., Fañanás, L., Bobes, J., González-Pinto, A., Crespo-Facorro, B., Martorell, L., Vilella, E., Muntané, G., Molto, M. D., Gonzalez-Piqueras, J. C., Parellada, M., Arango, C., & Costas, J. (2023). Recent natural selection conferred protection against schizophrenia by non-antagonistic pleiotropy. Scientific Reports, 13: 15500. doi:10.1038/s41598-023-42578-0.
Schizophrenia is a debilitating psychiatric disorder associated with a reduced fertility and decreased life expectancy, yet common predisposing variation substantially contributes to the onset of the disorder, which poses an evolutionary paradox. Previous research has suggested balanced selection, a mechanism by which schizophrenia risk alleles could also provide advantages under certain environments, as a reliable explanation. However, recent studies have shown strong evidence against a positive selection of predisposing loci. Furthermore, evolutionary pressures on schizophrenia risk alleles could have changed throughout human history as new environments emerged. Here in this study, we used 1000 Genomes Project data to explore the relationship between schizophrenia predisposing loci and recent natural selection (RNS) signatures after the human diaspora out of Africa around 100,000 years ago on a genome-wide scale. We found evidence for significant enrichment of RNS markers in derived alleles arisen during human evolution conferring protection to schizophrenia. Moreover, both partitioned heritability and gene set enrichment analyses of mapped genes from schizophrenia predisposing loci subject to RNS revealed a lower involvement in brain and neuronal related functions compared to those not subject to RNS. Taken together, our results suggest non-antagonistic pleiotropy as a likely mechanism behind RNS that could explain the persistence of schizophrenia common predisposing variation in human populations due to its association to other non-psychiatric phenotypes.
Publication type
Journal article
Publication date

Share this page