Polygenic risk for mental disorder reveals distinct association profiles across social behaviour in the general population

Schlag, F., Allegrini, A. G., Buitelaar, J., Verhoef, E., Van Donkelaar, M. M. J., Plomin, R., Rimfeld, K., Fisher, S. E., & St Pourcain, B. (2022). Polygenic risk for mental disorder reveals distinct association profiles across social behaviour in the general population. Molecular Psychiatry, 27, 1588-1598. doi:10.1038/s41380-021-01419-0.
Many mental health conditions present a spectrum of social difficulties that overlaps with social behaviour in the general population including shared but little characterised genetic links. Here, we systematically investigate heterogeneity in shared genetic liabilities with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders (ASD), bipolar disorder (BP), major depression (MD) and schizophrenia across a spectrum of different social symptoms. Longitudinally assessed low-prosociality and peer-problem scores in two UK population-based cohorts (4–17 years; parent- and teacher-reports; Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children(ALSPAC): N ≤ 6,174; Twins Early Development Study(TEDS): N ≤ 7,112) were regressed on polygenic risk scores for disorder, as informed by genome-wide summary statistics from large consortia, using negative binomial regression models. Across ALSPAC and TEDS, we replicated univariate polygenic associations between social behaviour and risk for ADHD, MD and schizophrenia. Modelling variation in univariate genetic effects jointly using random-effect meta-regression revealed evidence for polygenic links between social behaviour and ADHD, ASD, MD, and schizophrenia risk, but not BP. Differences in age, reporter and social trait captured 45–88% in univariate effect variation. Cross-disorder adjusted analyses demonstrated that age-related heterogeneity in univariate effects is shared across mental health conditions, while reporter- and social trait-specific heterogeneity captures disorder-specific profiles. In particular, ADHD, MD, and ASD polygenic risk were more strongly linked to peer problems than low prosociality, while schizophrenia was associated with low prosociality only. The identified association profiles suggest differences in the social genetic architecture across mental disorders when investigating polygenic overlap with population-based social symptoms spanning 13 years of child and adolescent development.
Publication type
Journal article
Publication date

Share this page