Subthreshold psychosis symptoms associated with molecular genetic risk in a population-based cohort: Findings from Generation Scotland
Subthreshold psychosis symptoms in the general population may be associated with genetic risk for schizophrenia. In this analysis, empirically-derived symptom factor scores led to a detection of significant and robust polygenic signal. This study sought to optimize genetic association with data-driven symptom factor scores, accounting for cohort factor structure and sex differences. EFA-derived symptom factor scores were regressed onto PRS for schizophrenia in models accounting for age and genetic ancestry principal components. Follow-up examination of symptom factor score associations with other related genetic risks included ADHD, autism, bipolar disorder, major depression, and neuroticism. This study examined the newly expanded symptom dataset from the Northern European ancestry cohort, Generation Scotland: Scottish Family Health Study (N = 9,105 individuals 18-65 years of age) comprising common variant and subthreshold psychosis symptom data. A total of 5,391 females and 3,713 males with age M[SD] = 45.2  were included in the final analyses. Subthreshold psychosis symptoms were measured using the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire-Brief (SPQ-B). Primary phenotypic factor scores and genome-wide polygenic risk scores (PRS) reflected weighted sum scores and were examined as continuous measures. Polygenic risk scores were calculated from genome-wide association summary statistics using 7,358,674 imputed common genetic variants passing quality control. In males, symptom factor scores were positively associated with polygenic risk for schizophrenia alone and implicated primarily interpersonal/negative symptoms. In females, symptom factor scores were positively associated with polygenic risks for ADHD and autism but not schizophrenia. Scores were robustly associated with genetic risk for neuroticism across both males and females. This study detected a significant association of subthreshold psychosis symptoms with genetic risk for schizophrenia and neuroticism in a population-based sample. Furthermore, important sex differences suggest a need for better understanding of schizophrenia risk assessment in females.
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