Family studies have identified a heritable component to self-harm that is partially independent from comorbid psychiatric disorders. However, the genetic aetiology of broad sense (non-suicidal and suicidal) self-harm has not been characterised on the molecular level. In addition, controversy exists about the degree to which suicidal and non-suicidal self-harm share a common genetic aetiology. In the present study, we conduct genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on lifetime self-harm ideation and self-harm behaviour (i.e. any lifetime self-harm act regardless of suicidal intent) using data from the UK Biobank (n > 156,000). We also perform genome wide gene-based tests and characterize the SNP heritability and genetic correlations between these traits. Finally, we test whether polygenic risk scores (PRS) for self-harm ideation and self-harm behaviour predict suicide attempt, suicide thoughts and non-suicidal self-harm (NSSH) in an independent target sample of 8,703 Australian adults. Our GWAS results identified one genome-wide significant locus associated with each of the two phenotypes. SNP heritability (hsnp2) estimates were ~10%, and both traits were highly genetically correlated (LDSC rg > 0.8). Gene-based tests identified seven genes associated with self-harm ideation and four with self-harm behaviour. Furthermore, in the target sample, PRS for self-harm ideation were significantly associated with suicide thoughts and NSSH, and PRS for self-harm behaviour predicted suicide thoughts and suicide attempt. Follow up regressions identified a shared genetic aetiology between NSSH and suicide thoughts, and between suicide thoughts and suicide attempt. Evidence for shared genetic aetiology between NSSH and suicide attempt was not statistically significant.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Dec 2020|