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DSM-5 includes two conceptualizations of personality disorders (PDs). The classification in Section II is identical to the one found in DSM-IV, and includes 10 categorical PDs. The Alternative Model (Section III) includes criteria for dimensional measures of maladaptive personality traits organized into five domains. The degree to which the two conceptualizations reflect the same etiological factors is not known.
We use data from a large population-based sample of adult twins from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health Twin Panel on interview-based DSM-IV PDs and a short self-report inventory that indexes the five domains of the DSM-5 Alternative Model plus a domain explicitly targeting compulsivity. Schizotypal, Paranoid, Antisocial, Borderline, Avoidant, and Obsessive-compulsive PDs were assessed at the same time as the maladaptive personality traits and 10 years previously. Schizoid, Histrionic, Narcissistic, and Dependent PDs were only assessed at the first interview. Biometric models were used to estimate overlap in genetic and environmental risk factors.
When measured concurrently, there was 100% genetic overlap between the maladaptive trait domains and Paranoid, Schizotypal, Antisocial, Borderline, and Avoidant PDs. For OCPD, 43% of the genetic variance was shared with the domains. Genetic correlations between the individual domains and PDs ranged from +0.21 to +0.91.
The pathological personality trait domains, which are part of the Alternative Model for classification of PDs in DSM-5 Section III, appears to tap, at an aggregate level, the same genetic risk factors as the DSM-5 Section II classification for most of the PDs.
The phenotypic stability of avoidant personality disorder (AVPD) and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) has previously been found to be moderate. However, little is known about the longitudinal structure of genetic and environmental factors for these disorders separately and jointly, and to what extent genetic and environmental factors contribute to their stability.
AVPD and OCPD criteria were assessed using the Structured Interview for DSM-IV Personality in 2793 young adult twins (1385 pairs, 23 singletons) from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health Twin Panel at wave 1 and 2282 (986 pairs, 310 singletons) of these on average 10 years later at wave 2. Longitudinal biometric models were fitted to AVPD and OCPD traits.
For twins who participated at both time-points, the number of endorsed sub-threshold criteria for both personality disorders (PDs) decreased 31% from wave 1 to wave 2. Phenotypic correlations between waves were 0.54 and 0.37 for AVPD and OCPD, respectively. The heritability estimates of the stable PD liabilities were 0.67 for AVPD and 0.53 for OCPD. The genetic correlations were 1.00 for AVPD and 0.72 for OCPD, while the unique environmental influences correlated 0.26 and 0.23, respectively. The correlation between the stable AVPD and OCPD liabilities was 0.39 of which 63% was attributable to genetic influences. Shared environmental factors did not significantly contribute to PD variance at either waves 1 or 2.
Phenotypic stability was moderate for AVPD and OCPD traits, and genetic factors contributed more than unique environmental factors to the stability both within and across phenotypes.
Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) and borderline personality disorder (BPD) share genetic and environmental risk factors. Little is known about the temporal stability of these etiological factors in adulthood.
DSM-IV criteria for ASPD and BPD were assessed using structured interviews in 2282 Norwegian twins in early adulthood and again approximately 10 years later. Longitudinal biometric models were used to analyze the number of endorsed criteria.
The mean criterion count for ASPD and BPD decreased 40% and 28%, respectively, from early to middle adulthood. Rank-order stability was 0.58 for ASPD and 0.45 for BPD. The best-fitting longitudinal twin model included only genetic and individual-specific environmental factors. Genetic effects, both those shared by ASPD and BPD, and those specific to each disorder remained completely stable. The unique environmental effects, however, changed substantially, with a correlation across time of 0.19 for the shared effects, and 0.39 and 0.15, respectively, for those specific to ASPD and BPD. Genetic effects accounted for 71% and 72% of the stability over time for ASPD and BPD, respectively. The genetic and environmental correlations between ASPD and BPD were 0.73, and 0.43, respectively, at both time points.
ASPD and BPD traits were moderately stable from early to middle adulthood, mostly due to genetic risk factors which did not change over the 10-year assessment period. Environmental risk factors were mostly transient, and appear to be the main source of phenotypic change. Genetic liability factors were, to a large extent, shared by ASPD and BPD.
While cluster A personality disorders (PDs) have been shown to be moderately heritable, we know little about the temporal stability of these genetic risk factors.
Paranoid PD (PPD) and schizotypal PD (STPD) were assessed using the Structured Interview for DSM-IV Personality in 2793 young adult twins from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health Twin Panel at wave 1 and 2282 twins on average 10 years later at wave 2. Using the program Mx, we fitted a longitudinal latent factor model using the number of endorsed criteria for PPD and STPD.
The stability over time of the criteria counts for PPD and STPD, estimated as polychoric correlations, were +0.34 and +0.40, respectively. The best-fit longitudinal model included only additive genetic and individual-specific environmental factors with parameter estimates constrained to equality across the two waves. The cross-wave genetic and individual-specific environmental correlations for a latent cluster A factor were estimated to equal +1.00 and +0.13, respectively. The cross-time correlations for genetic and environmental effects specific to the individual PDs were estimated at +1.00 and +0.16–0.20, respectively. We found that 68% and 71% of the temporal stability of PPD and STPD derived, respectively, from the effect of genetic factors.
Shared genetic risk factors for two of the cluster A PDs are highly stable in adults over a 10-year period while environmental risk factors are relatively transient. Over two-thirds of the long-term stability of the common cluster A PD liability can be attributed to genetic influences.
To explore the genetic and environmental factors underlying the co-occurrence of lifetime diagnoses of DSM-IV phobia.
Female twins (n=1430) from the population-based Norwegian Institute of Public Health Twin Panel were assessed at personal interview for DSM-IV lifetime specific phobia, social phobia and agoraphobia. Comorbidity between the phobias were assessed by odds ratios (ORs) and polychoric correlations and multivariate twin models were fitted in Mx.
Phenotypic correlations of lifetime phobia diagnoses ranged from 0.55 (agoraphobia and social phobia, OR 10.95) to 0.06 (animal phobia and social phobia, OR 1.21). In the best fitting twin model, which did not include shared environmental factors, heritability estimates for the phobias ranged from 0.43 to 0.63. Comorbidity between the phobias was accounted for by two common liability factors. The first loaded principally on animal phobia and did not influence the complex phobias (agoraphobia and social phobia). The second liability factor strongly influenced the complex phobias, but also loaded weak to moderate on all the other phobias. Blood phobia was mainly influenced by a specific genetic factor, which accounted for 51% of the total and 81% of the genetic variance.
Phobias are highly co-morbid and heritable. Our results suggest that the co-morbidity between phobias is best explained by two distinct liability factors rather than a single factor, as has been assumed in most previous multivariate twin analyses. One of these factors was specific to the simple phobias, while the other was more general. Blood phobia was mainly influenced by disorder specific genetic factors.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) co-occurs frequently with personality disorders (PDs). The extent to which this results from shared genetic or environmental risk factors remains uncertain.
Young adult twins (n=2801) from the population-based Norwegian Institute of Public Health Twin Panel were assessed at personal interview for DSM-IV lifetime MDD and the 10 Axis II PDs. The relationship between MDD and dimensional representations of all PDs was explored by stepwise logistic regression. Multivariate Cholesky twin models were fitted using the Mx program, and genetic and environmental correlations were estimated.
Dimensional representations of borderline (BPD), avoidant (AVPD) and paranoid personality disorder (PPD) were independently and significantly associated with increased risk for MDD. Multivariate twin modeling indicated that one latent factor accounted for the genetic covariance between MDD and the three PDs. The genetic correlations between MDD and dimensional representations of BPD, AVPD and PPD were +0.56, +0.22 and +0.40 respectively. No sex differences or shared environmental effects were found. The structure of the individual-specific environmental factors influencing MDD and the three PDs were similar to the genetic factors but the environmental correlations were lower: +0.39, +0.23 and +0.27 respectively.
There is substantial overlap between liability factors for MDD and BPD from cluster B, PPD from cluster A and AVPD from cluster C. The vulnerability to general PD pathology and MDD seem to be closely related. The patterns of co-morbidity observed between diverse psychiatric disorders might result from just a few liability factors.
The personality disorders (PDs) in the ‘dramatic’ cluster B [antisocial (ASPD), histrionic (HPD), narcissistic (NPD) and borderline (BPD)] demonstrate co-morbidity. However, the degree to which genetic and/or environmental factors influence their co-occurrence is not known and, with the exception of ASPD, the relative impact of genetic and environmental risk factors on liability to the cluster B PDs has not been conclusively established.
PD traits were assessed in 1386 Norwegian twin pairs between the age of 19 and 35 years using the Structured Interview for DSM-IV Personality Disorders (SIDP-IV). Using the statistical package Mx, multivariate twin models were fitted to dimensional representations of the PDs.
The best-fitting model, which did not include sex or shared family environment effects, included common genetic and environmental factors influencing all four dramatic PD traits, and factors influencing only ASPD and BPD. Heritability was estimated at 38% for ASPD traits, 31% for HPD traits, 24% for NPD traits and 35% for BPD traits. BPD traits had the lowest and ASPD traits the highest disorder-specific genetic variance.
The frequently observed co-morbidity between cluster B PDs results from both common genetic and environmental influences. Etiologically, cluster B has a ‘substructure’ in which ASPD and BPD are more closely related to each other than to the other cluster B disorders.
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