Personality trait shares genetic link with depression

December 21, 2017, University of Edinburgh
A depiction of the double helical structure of DNA. Its four coding units (A, T, C, G) are color-coded in pink, orange, purple and yellow. Credit: NHGRI

Scientists analysed the DNA of over 300,000 people and found many genes linked to neuroticism – characterised by feelings of anxiety, worry and guilt. The genes are also linked to depression. The findings help shed light on the causes of depression – which affects one in five people – and could provide information to help better diagnosis and treatment for individuals, scientists say.

Researchers analysed genetic information from a group of people aged from 39 to 73, whose levels of had been measured by a personality questionnaire. DNA analysis combined with the personality data uncovered 116 linked to neuroticism.

Researchers from the University found that genes associated with neuroticism had some overlap with genes linked to a susceptibility to depression and some other psychiatric conditions. More than half of the genetic variations associated with neuroticism are expressed in the brain.

"This is the largest study of its kind in the area of personality. These discoveries promise paths to understand the mechanisms whereby some people become depressed, and of broader human differences in happiness. They are a resource for those seeking treatments for ," says Dr. Michelle Luciano.

"For millennia it has been recognised that people have a greater or lesser tendency to feel low, worry, and experience other negative emotions. We knew that a part of the explanation is genetic differences between people, but it's been a mystery which are involved. These new results, from the very large UK Biobank sample, make a substantial contribution to solving that mystery by pointing to many specific places in the genome that are linked with neuroticism," Prof. Ian Deary.

The study is published in the journal Nature Genetics.

The study used data in the UK Biobank, a major genetic study into the role of nature and nurture in health and disease.

Explore further: Scientists ID genes connected to wellbeing, depression and neuroticism

More information: Michelle Luciano et al. Association analysis in over 329,000 individuals identifies 116 independent variants influencing neuroticism, Nature Genetics (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41588-017-0013-8

Related Stories

Scientists ID genes connected to wellbeing, depression and neuroticism

April 19, 2016
An international group of more than 190 scientists who analyzed the genomes of 298,420 individuals have found genetic variants that may influence our sense of wellbeing, depression and neuroticism.

Personality traits and psychiatric disorders linked to specific genomic locations

December 8, 2016
A meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) has identified six loci or regions of the human genome that are significantly linked to personality traits, report researchers at University of California San Diego ...

Researchers identify genetic associations of neuroticism

April 12, 2016
Neuroticism, a personality trait related to depression, anxiety and even heart disease, can be linked to nine new distinct gene-associations according to international research led by the University of Glasgow.

Combinations of certain personality traits may guard against depression and anxiety

November 29, 2017
Though high levels of neuroticism put people at risk for depression and anxiety, if those same individuals are also highly extraverted and conscientious they could have a measure of protection against those disorders, according ...

Neuroticism may postpone death for some

July 24, 2017
Data from a longitudinal study of over 500,000 people in the United Kingdom indicate that having higher levels of the personality trait neuroticism may reduce the risk of death for individuals who report being in fair or ...

Neuroticism predicts anxiety and depression disorders

January 27, 2016
A new Northwestern University and UCLA study has found for the first time that young people who are high on the personality trait of neuroticism are highly likely to develop both anxiety and depression disorders.

Recommended for you

Student develops microfluidics device to help scientists identify early genetic markers of cancer

October 16, 2018
As anyone who has played "Where's Waldo" knows, searching for a single item in a landscape filled with a mélange of characters and objects can be a challenge. Chrissy O'Keefe, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biomedical ...

Researchers use brain cells in a dish to study genetic origins of schizophrenia

October 16, 2018
A study in Biological Psychiatry has established a new analytical method for investigating the complex genetic origins of mental illnesses using brain cells that are grown in a dish from human embryonic stem cells. Researchers ...

Why heart contractions are weaker in those with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

October 16, 2018
When a young athlete suddenly dies of a heart attack, chances are high that they suffer from familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Itis the most common genetic heart disease in the US and affects an estimated 1 in 500 ...

Importance of cell cycle and cellular senescence in the placenta discovered

October 15, 2018
Working with researchers from Stanford University and St. Anna Children's Cancer Research, researchers from Jürgen Pollheimer's laboratory at the Medical University of Vienna's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology have ...

Team's study reveals hidden lives of medical biomarkers

October 12, 2018
What do medical biomarkers do on evenings and weekends, when they might be considered off the clock?

Researchers find a 'critical need' for whole genome sequencing of young cancer patients

October 12, 2018
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has re-defined the gold standard for diagnostic testing of childhood cancer patients in the precision-medicine era and has implemented the testing for new cancer patients. The findings ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.