Shared genetics and couple-associated environment are major contributors to the risk of both clinical and self-declared depression

Yanni Zeng, Pau Navarro, Charley Xin, Carmen Amador, Ana M. Fernandez-pujals, Pippa A. Thomson, Archie Campbell, Reka Nagy, Toni-kim Clarke, Jonathan D. Hafferty, Blair H. Smith, Lynne J. Hocking, Sandosh Padmanabhan, Caroline Hayward, Donald J. Macintyre, David J Porteous, Chris S. Haley, Andrew M. Mcintosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: Both genetic and environmental factors contribute to risk of depression, but estimates of their rela- tive contributions are limited. Commonalities between clinically-assessed major depressive disorder (MDD) and self-declared depression (SDD) are also unclear.

Methods: Using data from a large Scottish family-based cohort (GS:SFHS, N = 19,994), we estimated the genetic and environmental variance components for MDD and SDD. The components representing the genetic effect as- sociated with genome-wide common genetic variants (SNP heritability), the additional pedigree-associated ge- netic effect and non-genetic effects associated with common environments were estimated in a linear mixed model (LMM).

Findings: Both MDD and SDD had significant contributions from components representing the effect from com- mon genetic variants, the additional genetic effect associated with the pedigree and the common environmental effect shared by couples. The estimate of correlation between SDD and MDD was high (r = 1.00, se = 0.20) for common-variant-associated genetic effect and lower for the additional genetic effect from the pedigree (r = 0.57, se = 0.08) and the couple-shared environmental effect (r = 0.53, se = 0.22).

Interpretation: Both genetics and couple-shared environmental effects were major factors influencing liability to depression. SDD may provide a scalable alternative to MDD in studies seeking to identify common risk variants. Rarer variants and environmental effects may however differ substantially according to different definitions of depression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-167
Early online date4 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2016

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Self-declared depression
  • SNP heritability
  • couple effect
  • family environment
  • linear mixed modeling


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