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The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, with its impact on our way of life, is affecting our experiences and mental health. Notably, individuals with mental disorders have been reported to have a higher risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2. Personality traits could represent an important determinant of preventative health behaviour and, therefore, the risk of contracting the virus.
We examined overlapping genetic underpinnings between major psychiatric disorders, personality traits and susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Linkage disequilibrium score regression was used to explore the genetic correlations of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) susceptibility with psychiatric disorders and personality traits based on data from the largest available respective genome-wide association studies (GWAS). In two cohorts (the PsyCourse (n = 1346) and the HeiDE (n = 3266) study), polygenic risk scores were used to analyse if a genetic association between, psychiatric disorders, personality traits and COVID-19 susceptibility exists in individual-level data.
We observed no significant genetic correlations of COVID-19 susceptibility with psychiatric disorders. For personality traits, there was a significant genetic correlation for COVID-19 susceptibility with extraversion (P = 1.47 × 10−5; genetic correlation 0.284). Yet, this was not reflected in individual-level data from the PsyCourse and HeiDE studies.
We identified no significant correlation between genetic risk factors for severe psychiatric disorders and genetic risk for COVID-19 susceptibility. Among the personality traits, extraversion showed evidence for a positive genetic association with COVID-19 susceptibility, in one but not in another setting. Overall, these findings highlight a complex contribution of genetic and non-genetic components in the interaction between COVID-19 susceptibility and personality traits or mental disorders.
The Bern Psychopathology Scale (BPS) is based on a system-specific approach to classifying the psychopathological symptom pattern of schizophrenia. It consists of subscales for three domains (language, affect and motor behaviour) that are hypothesized to be related to specific brain circuits. The aim of the study was to examine the factor structure of the BPS in patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders.
One hundred and forty-nine inpatients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders were recruited at the Department of Psychiatry II, Ulm University, Germany (n = 100) and at the University Hospital of Psychiatry, Bern, Switzerland (n = 49). Psychopathology was assessed with the BPS. The VARCLUS procedure of SAS® (a type of oblique component analysis) was used for statistical analysis.
Six clusters were identified (inhibited language, inhibited motor behaviour, inhibited affect, disinhibited affect, disinhibited language/motor behaviour, inhibited language/motor behaviour) which explained 40.13% of the total variance of the data. A binary division of attributes into an inhibited and disinhibited cluster was appropriate, although an overlap was found between the language and motor behaviour domains. There was a clear distinction between qualitative and quantitative symptoms.
The results argue for the validity of the BPS in identifying subsyndromes of schizophrenia spectrum disorders according to a dimensional approach. Future research should address the longitudinal assessment of dimensional psychopathological symptoms and elucidate the underlying neurobiological processes.
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