An Examination of Environmental Influences on Genomic Variations, Neurodevelopmental Trajectories & Vulnerability to Psychopathology, with a Focus on Externalising Disorders

Research Paper Title

Consortium on Vulnerability to Externalizing Disorders and Addictions (cVEDA): A developmental cohort study protocol.

Background

Low and middle-income countries like India with a large youth population experience a different environment from that of high-income countries.

The Consortium on Vulnerability to Externalising Disorders and Addictions (cVEDA), based in India, aims to examine environmental influences on genomic variations, neurodevelopmental trajectories and vulnerability to psychopathology, with a focus on externalising disorders.

Methods

cVEDA is a longitudinal cohort study, with planned missingness design for yearly follow-up.

Participants have been recruited from multi-site tertiary care mental health settings, local communities, schools and colleges.

10,000 individuals between 6 and 23 years of age, of all genders, representing five geographically, ethnically, and socio-culturally distinct regions in India, and exposures to variations in early life adversity (psychosocial, nutritional, toxic exposures, slum-habitats, socio-political conflicts, urban/rural living, mental illness in the family) have been assessed using age-appropriate instruments to capture socio-demographic information, temperament, environmental exposures, parenting, psychiatric morbidity, and neuropsychological functioning.

Blood/saliva and urine samples have been collected for genetic, epigenetic and toxicological (heavy metals, volatile organic compounds) studies.

Structural (T1, T2, DTI) and functional (resting state fMRI) MRI brain scans have been performed on approximately 15% of the individuals.

All data and biological samples are maintained in a databank and biobank, respectively.

Discussion

The cVEDA has established the largest neurodevelopmental database in India, comparable to global datasets, with detailed environmental characterisation.

This should permit identification of environmental and genetic vulnerabilities to psychopathology within a developmental framework.

Neuroimaging and neuropsychological data from this study are already yielding insights on brain growth and maturation patterns.

Reference

Sharma, E., Vaidya, N., Iyengar, U., Zhang, Y., Holla, B., Purushottam, M., Chakrabarti, A., Fernandes, G.S., Heron, J., Hickman, M., Desrivieres, S., Kartik, K., Jacob, P., Rangaswamy, M., Bharath, R.D., Barker, G., Orfanos, D.P., Ahuja, C., Murthy, P., Jain, S., Varghese, M., Jayarajan, D., Kumar, K., Thennarasu, K., Basu, D., Subodh, B.N., Kuriyan, R., Kurpad, S.S., Kalyanram, K., Krishnaveni, G., Krishna, M., Singh, R.L., Singh, L.R., Kalyanram, K., Toledano, M., Schumann, G., Benegal, V. & cVEDA Consortium. (2020) Consortium on Vulnerability to Externalizing Disorders and Addictions (cVEDA): A developmental cohort study protocol. BMC Psychiatry. 20(1):2. doi: 10.1186/s12888-019-2373-3.

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