Genetic and environmental determinants of stressful life events and their overlap with depression and neuroticism

Clarke, T.-K. et al. (2019) Genetic and environmental determinants of stressful life events and their overlap with depression and neuroticism. Wellcome Open Research, 3, 11. (doi: 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.13893.2)

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Background: Stressful life events (SLEs) and neuroticism are risk factors for major depressive disorder (MDD). However, SLEs and neuroticism are heritable and genetic risk for SLEs is associated with risk for MDD. We sought to investigate the genetic and environmental contributions to SLEs in a family-based sample, and quantify genetic overlap with MDD and neuroticism. Methods: A subset of Generation Scotland: the Scottish Family Health Study (GS), consisting of 9618 individuals with information on MDD, past 6 month SLEs, neuroticism and genome-wide genotype data was used in the present study. We estimated the heritability of SLEs using GCTA software. The environmental contribution to SLEs was assessed by modelling familial, couple and sibling components. Using polygenic risk scores (PRS) and LD score regression (LDSC) we analysed the genetic overlap between MDD, neuroticism and SLEs. Results: Past 6-month life events were positively associated with lifetime MDD status (β=0.21, r2=1.1%, p=2.5 x 10-25) and neuroticism (β =0.13, r2=1.9%, p=1.04 x 10-37) at the phenotypic level. Common SNPs explained 8% of the phenotypic variance in personal life events (those directly affecting the individual) (S.E.=0.03, p= 9 x 10-4). A significant effect of couple environment was detected accounting for 13% (S.E.=0.03, p=0.016) of the phenotypic variation in SLEs. PRS analyses found that reporting more SLEs was associated with a higher polygenic risk for MDD (β =0.05, r2=0.3%, p=3 x 10-5), but not a higher polygenic risk for neuroticism. LDSC showed a significant genetic correlation between SLEs and both MDD (rG=0.33, S.E.=0.08 ) and neuroticism (rG=0.15, S.E.=0.07). Conclusions: These findings suggest that SLEs should not be regarded solely as environmental risk factors for MDD as they are partially heritable and this heritability is shared with risk for MDD and neuroticism. Further work is needed to determine the causal direction and source of these associations. Keywords

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Generation Scotland received core support from the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health Directorates [CZD/16/6] and the Scottish Funding Council [HR03006]. Genotyping of the GS samples was carried out by the Genetics Core Laboratory at the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility, Edinburgh, Scotland and was funded by the Medical Research Council UK and the Wellcome Trust (Wellcome Trust Strategic Award “STratifying Resilience and Depression Longitudinally” (STRADL) Reference 104036/Z/14/Z). We acknowledge with gratitude the financial support received for this work from the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation. PT, DJP, IJD, and AMM are members of The University of Edinburgh Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, part of the cross council Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Initiative (MR/K026992/1). Funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Medical Research Council is gratefully acknowledged. CSH, CA, CX and PN acknowledge funding from the MRC UK (grants MC_PC_U127592696 and MC_PC_U127561128).
Keywords:Depression, genetics, neuroticism, stress.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Padmanabhan, Professor Sandosh
Creator Roles:
Padmanabhan, S.Data curation, Resources, Writing – review and editing
Authors: Clarke, T.-K., Zeng, Y., Navrady, L., Xia, C., Haley, C., Campbell, A., Navarro, P., Amador, C., Adams, M. J., Howard, D. M., Soler, A., Hayward, C., Thomson, P. A., Smith, B. H., Padmanabhan, S., Hocking, L. J., Hall, L. S., Porteous, D. J., Deary, I. J., and McIntosh, A. M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Cardiovascular & Metabolic Health
Journal Name:Wellcome Open Research
ISSN (Online):2398-502X
Published Online:14 February 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 Clarke TK et al.
First Published:First published in Wellcome Open Research 3:11
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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