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The p factor: genetic analyses support a general dimension of psychopathology in childhood and adolescence

Allegrini, AG; Cheesman, R; Rimfeld, K; Selzam, S; Pingault, J-B; Eley, TC; Plomin, R; (2019) The p factor: genetic analyses support a general dimension of psychopathology in childhood and adolescence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 10.1111/jcpp.13113. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Diverse behaviour problems in childhood correlate phenotypically, suggesting a general dimension of psychopathology that has been called the p factor. The shared genetic architecture between childhood psychopathology traits also supports a genetic p. This study systematically investigates the manifestation of this common dimension across self‐, parent‐ and teacher‐rated measures in childhood and adolescence. / Methods: The sample included 7,026 twin pairs from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS). First, we employed multivariate twin models to estimate common genetic and environmental influences on p based on diverse measures of behaviour problems rated by children, parents and teachers at ages 7, 9, 12 and 16 (depressive traits, emotional problems, peer problems, autism traits, hyperactivity, antisocial behaviour, conduct problems and psychopathic tendencies). Second, to assess the stability of genetic and environmental influences on p across time, we conducted longitudinal twin modelling of the first phenotypic principal components of childhood psychopathological measures across each of the four ages. Third, we created a genetic p factor in 7,026 unrelated genotyped individuals based on eight polygenic scores for psychiatric disorders to estimate how a general polygenic predisposition to mostly adult psychiatric disorders relates to childhood p. / Results: Behaviour problems were consistently correlated phenotypically and genetically across ages and raters. The p factor is substantially heritable (50%–60%) and manifests consistently across diverse ages and raters. However, residual variation in the common factor models indicates unique contributions as well. Genetic correlations of p components across childhood and adolescence suggest stability over time (49%–78%). A polygenic general psychopathology factor derived from studies of psychiatric disorders consistently predicted a general phenotypic p factor across development (0.3%–0.9%). / Conclusions: Diverse forms of psychopathology generally load on a common p factor, which is highly heritable. There are substantial genetic influences on the stability of p across childhood. Our analyses indicate genetic overlap between general risk for psychiatric disorders in adulthood and p in childhood, even as young as age 7. The p factor has far‐reaching implications for genomic research and, eventually, for diagnosis and treatment of behaviour problems. /

Type: Article
Title: The p factor: genetic analyses support a general dimension of psychopathology in childhood and adolescence
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.13113
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13113
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Social Sciences, Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Psychology, Developmental, Psychiatry, Psychology, Childhood psychopathology, behavioural genetics, genomics, ASPERGER, QUESTIONNAIRE, DISORDERS, BEHAVIOR, RISK
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/10085739
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