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Extracting stability increases the SNP heritability of emotional problems in young people

Cheesman, R; Purves, KL; Pingault, J-B; Breen, G; Rijsdij, FK; Plomin, R; Eley, TC; (2018) Extracting stability increases the SNP heritability of emotional problems in young people. Translational Psychiatry , 8 , Article 223. 10.1038/s41398-018-0269-5. Green open access

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Abstract

Twin studies have shown that emotional problems (anxiety and depression) in childhood and adolescence are moderately heritable (~20–50%). In contrast, DNA-based ‘SNP heritability’ estimates are generally <15% and non-significant. One notable feature of emotional problems is that they can be somewhat transient, but the moderate stability seen across time and across raters is predominantly influenced by stable genetic influences. This suggests that by capturing what is in common across time and across raters, we might be more likely to tap into any underlying genetic vulnerability. We therefore hypothesised that a phenotype capturing the pervasive stability of emotional problems would show higher heritability. We fitted single-factor latent trait models using 12 emotional problems measures across ages 7, 12 and 16, rated by parents, teachers and children themselves in the Twins Early Development Study sample. Twin and SNP heritability estimates for stable emotional problems (N = 6110 pairs and 6110 unrelated individuals, respectively) were compared to those for individual measures. Twin heritability increased from 45% on average for individual measures to 76% (se = 0.023) by focusing on stable trait variance. SNP heritability rose from 5% on average (n.s.) to 14% (se = 0.049; p = 0.002). Heritability was also higher for stable within-rater composites. Polygenic scores for both adult anxiety and depression significantly explained variance in stable emotional problems (0.4%; p = 0.0001). The variance explained was more than in most individual measures. Stable emotional problems also showed significant genetic correlation with adult depression and anxiety (average = 52%). These results demonstrate the value of examining stable emotional problems in gene-finding and prediction studies.

Type: Article
Title: Extracting stability increases the SNP heritability of emotional problems in young people
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41398-018-0269-5
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-018-0269-5
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s) 2018. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10061226
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