Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 52, Issue 8, pp 1041–1058 | Cite as

The Lausanne–Geneva cohort study of offspring of parents with mood disorders: methodology, findings, current sample characteristics, and perspectives

  • Caroline L. VandeleurEmail author
  • Marie-Pierre F. Strippoli
  • Enrique Castelao
  • Mehdi Gholam-Rezaee
  • François Ferrero
  • Pierre Marquet
  • Jean-Michel Aubry
  • Martin Preisig
Study Protocols and Samples



Studies focusing on the offspring of affected parents utilize the well-established familial aggregation of mood disorders as a powerful tool for the identification of risk factors, early clinical manifestations, and prodromes of mood disorders in these offspring. The major goals of the Lausanne–Geneva mood cohort study are to: (1) assess the familial aggregation of bipolar and unipolar mood disorders; (2) prospectively identify risk factors for mood disorders as well as their early signs and prodromes; (3) identify their endophenotypes including cognitive features, alterations in brain structure, HPA-axis dysregulation, and abnormalities of the circadian rhythm of activity.


Probands with bipolar disorders, major depressive disorder, and controls with at least one child aged from 4 to 17.9 years at study intake, their offspring, as well as their spouses are invited to take part in follow-up assessments at predetermined ages of the offspring. Direct semi-structured diagnostic interviews have been used for all participants. Probands, spouses, and adult offspring also undergo neurocognitive testing, anthropomorphic measures and biochemical exams, structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging, as well as objective assessments of physical activity using accelerometers in combination with ecological momentary assessments.


Currently, our study has up to seven follow-up assessments extending over a period of 20 years. There are 214 probands and 389 offspring with one direct interview before age 18 as well as a second assessment over follow-up. Data on 236 co-parents are also available from whom 55% have been directly interviewed. First publications support the specificity of the familial aggregation of BPD and the strong influence of an early onset of the parental BPD, which amplifies the risk of developing this disorder in offspring.


Information from clinical, biological, cognitive, and behavioral measures, based on contemporary knowledge, should further enhance our understanding of mood disorder psychopathology, its consequences, and underlying mechanisms.


Familial aggregation Prospective study Offspring of bipolar and depressed parents Risk factors Endophenotypes 



The authors would like to express their gratitude to the participants and to the collaborators who contributed to the coordination of the study and the collection of data. Special thanks to Prof. Pierre-François Leyvraz, Dr. Nicolas Favarger, and Prof. Daniel Egloff from the Orthopedic Department in Lausanne, as well as to Prof. Pierre Hoffmeyer from the Orthopedic Department in Geneva for their help with the recruitment of the comparison participants of this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Role of funding sources

This research was and is supported by five grants from the Swiss National Foundation (SNF: #3200-040677, #32003B-105969, and #32003B-118326 to F. Ferrero; #3200-049746 and #3200-061974 to M. Preisig), two grants for a national research project “The Synaptic Bases of Mental Diseases” (#125759 and #158776 to P. Magistretti) financed by the Swiss National Foundation, and a Grant from GlaxoSmithKline Clinical Genetics. The funders had no involvement in any aspect of this study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical approval

The study protocols at the baseline and follow-up assessments were approved by the review board of the University Hospital of Lausanne and have, therefore, been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

Informed consent

All participants gave written informed consent for their participation prior to the assessments and parents provided informed consent for the participation of their children younger than 18 years.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline L. Vandeleur
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marie-Pierre F. Strippoli
    • 1
  • Enrique Castelao
    • 1
  • Mehdi Gholam-Rezaee
    • 1
  • François Ferrero
    • 2
  • Pierre Marquet
    • 1
  • Jean-Michel Aubry
    • 2
  • Martin Preisig
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity Hospital of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Mental Health and PsychiatryUniversity Hospital of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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