Evidence of horizontal indirect genetic effects in humans

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Indirect Genetic Effects (IGEs), the effect of the genotype of one individual on the phenotype of other individuals, are environmental factors associated with human disease and complex trait variation that could aid expanding our understanding of the environment linked to complex traits. Here, we study IGEs in 80,889 human couples of European ancestry for 105 complex traits. Using a linear mixed model approach, we estimate partner indirect heritability and find evidence of partner heritability on ~50% of the analysed traits. Follow up analysis suggests that in at least ~25% of these traits, the partner heritability is consistent with the existence of indirect genetic effects including a wide variety of traits such as dietary traits, mental health, and disease. This shows that the environment linked to complex traits is partially explained by the genotype of other individuals and motivates the need to find new ways of studying the environment
Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Human Behaviour
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2020


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