Major depressive disorder and lifestyle: Correlated genetic effects in extended twin pedigrees

Floris Huider*, Yuri Milaneschi, Matthijs D. van der Zee, Eco J. C. de Geus, Quinta Helmer, Brenda W. J. H. Penninx, Dorret I. Boomsma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In recent years, evidence has accumulated with regard to the ubiquity of pleiotropy across the genome, and shared genetic etiology is thought to play a large role in the widespread comorbidity among psychiatric disorders and risk factors. Recent methods investigate pleiotropy by estimating genetic correlation from genome-wide association summary statistics. More comprehensive estimates can be derived from the known relatedness between genetic relatives. Analysis of extended twin pedigree data allows for the estimation of genetic correlation for additive and non-additive genetic effects, as well as a shared household effect. Here we conduct a series of bivariate genetic analyses in extended twin pedigree data on lifetime major depressive disorder (MDD) and three indicators of lifestyle, namely smoking behavior, physical inactivity, and obesity, decomposing phenotypic variance and covariance into genetic and environmental components. We analyze lifetime MDD and lifestyle data in a large multigenerational dataset of 19,496 individuals by variance component analysis in the ‘Mendel’ software. We find genetic correlations for MDD and smoking behavior (rG = 0.249), physical inactivity (rG = 0.161), body-mass index (rG = 0.081), and obesity (rG = 0.155), which were primarily driven by additive genetic effects. These outcomes provide evidence in favor of a shared genetic etiology between MDD and the lifestyle factors.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1509
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021

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