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Most studies underline the contribution of heritable factors for psychiatric disorders. However, heritability estimates depend on the population under study, diagnostic instruments, and study designs that each has its inherent assumptions, strengths, and biases. We aim to test the homogeneity in heritability estimates between two powerful, and state of the art study designs for eight psychiatric disorders.
We assessed heritability based on data of Swedish siblings (N = 4 408 646 full and maternal half-siblings), and based on summary data of eight samples with measured genotypes (N = 125 533 cases and 208 215 controls). All data were based on standard diagnostic criteria. Eight psychiatric disorders were studied: (1) alcohol dependence (AD), (2) anorexia nervosa, (3) attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), (4) autism spectrum disorder, (5) bipolar disorder, (6) major depressive disorder, (7) obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and (8) schizophrenia.
Heritability estimates from sibling data varied from 0.30 for Major Depression to 0.80 for ADHD. The estimates based on the measured genotypes were lower, ranging from 0.10 for AD to 0.28 for OCD, but were significant, and correlated positively (0.19) with national sibling-based estimates. When removing OCD from the data the correlation increased to 0.50.
Given the unique character of each study design, the convergent findings for these eight psychiatric conditions suggest that heritability estimates are robust across different methods. The findings also highlight large differences in genetic and environmental influences between psychiatric disorders, providing future directions for etiological psychiatric research.
Studies have indicated that the association of urbanicity at birth and during upbringing with schizophrenia may be driven by familial factors such as genetic liability. We used a population-based nested case–control study to assess whether polygenic risk score (PRS) for schizophrenia was associated with urbanicity at birth and at age 15, and to assess whether PRS and parental history of mental disorder together explained the association between urbanicity and schizophrenia.
Data were drawn from Danish population registries. Cases born since 1981 and diagnosed with schizophrenia between 1994 and 2009 were matched to controls with the same sex and birthdate (1549 pairs). Genome-wide data were obtained from the Danish Neonatal Screening Biobank and PRSs were calculated based on results of a separate, large meta-analysis.
Those with higher PRS were more likely reside in the capital compared with rural areas at age 15 [odds ratio (OR) 1.19, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01–1.40], but not at birth (OR 1.09, 95% CI 0.95–1.26). Adjustment for PRS produced almost no change in relative risks of schizophrenia associated with urbanicity at birth, but slightly attenuated those for urban residence at age 15. Additional adjustment for parental history led to slight attenuation of relative risks for urbanicity at birth [incidence rate ratio (IRR) for birth in capital = 1.54, 95% CI 1.18–2.02; overall p = 0.016] and further attenuation of relative risks for urbanicity at age 15 (IRR for residence in capital = 1.32, 95% CI 0.97–1.78; overall p = 0.148).
While results regarding urbanicity during upbringing were somewhat equivocal, genetic liability as measured here does not appear to explain the association between urbanicity at birth and schizophrenia.
Second-generation immigrants have an increased risk of schizophrenia, a finding that still lacks a satisfactory explanation. Various operational definitions of second-generation immigrants have been used, including foreign parental country of birth. However, with increasing global migration, it is not clear that parental country of birth necessarily is informative with regard to ethnicity. We compare two independently collected measures of parental foreign ethnicity, parental foreign country of birth versus genetic divergence, based on genome-wide genotypic data, to access which measure most efficiently captures the increased risk of schizophrenia among second-generation immigrants residing in Denmark.
A case–control study covering all children born in Denmark since 1981 included 892 cases of schizophrenia and 883 matched controls. Genetic divergence was assessed using principal component analyses of the genotypic data. Independently, parental foreign country of birth was assessed using information recorded prospectively in the Danish Civil Registration System. We compared incidence rate ratios of schizophrenia associated with these two independently collected measures of parental foreign ethnicity.
People with foreign-born parents had a significantly increased risk of schizophrenia [relative risk (RR) 1.94 (95% confidence intervals (CI) 1.41–2.65)]. Genetically divergent persons also had a significant increased risk [RR 2.43 (95% CI 1.55–3.82)]. Mutual adjustment of parental foreign country of birth and genetic divergence showed no difference between these measures with regard to their potential impact on the results.
In terms of RR of schizophrenia, genetic divergence and parental foreign country of birth are interchangeable entities, and both entities have validity with regard to identifying second-generation immigrants.
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