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"The Heidelberg Five" Personality Dimensions: Genome-wide Associations, Polygenic Risk for Neuroticism, and Psychopathology 20 Years after Assessment

By Urs Heilbronner, Sergi Papiol, Monika Budde, Till F. M. Andlauer, Jana Strohmaier, Fabian Streit, Josef Frank, Franziska Degenhardt, Stefanie Heilmann-Heimbach, Stephanie H. Witt, Andreas J. Forstner, Adrian Loerbroks, Manfred Amelang, Til Stürmer, Bertram Müller-Myhsok, Markus M. Nöthen, Marcella Rietschel, Thomas G. Schulze

Posted 23 Mar 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.23.003889

The HeiDE study ("Heidelberger Langzeitstudie zu Risikofaktoren und Diagnose chronischer Erkrankungen") is a longitudinal population-based study that started in the 1990s and, at baseline, assessed an array of health-related personality questionnaires in 5 133 individuals. Five latent personality dimensions (The Heidelberg Five) were identified and interpreted as Emotional Lability (ELAB), Lack of Behavioral Control (LBCN), Type A Behavior (TYAB), Locus of Control over Disease (LOCC), and Psychoticism (PSYC). A subset of participants (n=3 268; after quality control) were genotyped on whole-genome arrays at follow-up. To further characterize The Heidelberg Five, we analyzed genomic underpinnings, their relations to the genetic basis of the Big Five trait Neuroticism, and longitudinal associations with lifetime psychiatric symptoms. SNP-based heritability was significant for ELAB (34%) and LBCN (29%). Five separate genome-wide association studies (GWAS) using factor scores on personality dimensions as phenotypes were conducted, only the phenotype PSYC yielded a genome-wide significant finding (p<5×10-8, top SNP rs138223660). Gene-based analyses identified significant findings for ELAB (Integrin Subunit Beta 5), TYAB (Coiled-coil Domain Containing 83), and PSYC (Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 1 Group H Member 4). Polygenic risk scores for Neuroticism, phenotypically related to ELAB, were associated with ELAB, but not with the remaining Heidelberg Five. Longitudinally, all personality dimensions were related to depressive symptoms at follow-up, with ELAB, LBCN, and PSYC also associated with lifetime anxiety symptoms. These results highlight the clinical importance of health-related personality traits, and identify LBCN as a heritable "executive function" personality trait.

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