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Genetic contributions to two special factors of neuroticism are associated with affluence, higher intelligence, better health, and longer life

Genetic contributions to two special factors of neuroticism are associated with affluence, higher intelligence, better health, and longer life
Genetic contributions to two special factors of neuroticism are associated with affluence, higher intelligence, better health, and longer life

Higher scores on the personality trait of neuroticism, the tendency to experience negative emotions, are associated with worse mental and physical health. Studies examining links between neuroticism and health typically operationalize neuroticism by summing the items from a neuroticism scale. However, neuroticism is made up of multiple heterogeneous facets, each contributing to the effect of neuroticism as a whole. A recent study showed that a 12-item neuroticism scale described one broad trait of general neuroticism and two special factors, one characterizing the extent to which people worry and feel vulnerable, and the other characterizing the extent to which people are anxious and tense. This study also found that, although individuals who were higher on general neuroticism lived shorter lives, individuals whose neuroticism was characterized by worry and vulnerability lived longer lives. Here, we examine the genetic contributions to the two special factors of neuroticism—anxiety/tension and worry/vulnerability—and how they contrast with that of general neuroticism. First, we show that, whereas the polygenic load for neuroticism is associated with the genetic risk of coronary artery disease, lower intelligence, lower socioeconomic status (SES), and poorer self-rated health, the genetic variants associated with high levels of anxiety/tension, and high levels of worry/vulnerability are associated with genetic variants linked to higher SES, higher intelligence, better self-rated health, and longer life. Second, we identify genetic variants that are uniquely associated with these protective aspects of neuroticism. Finally, we show that different neurological pathways are linked to each of these neuroticism phenotypes.

1359-4184
Hill, W. David
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Weiss, Alexander
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Liewald, David C.
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Davies, Gail
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Porteous, David J.
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Hayward, Caroline
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McIntosh, Andrew M.
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Gale, Catharine R.
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Deary, Ian J.
027158ae-fbfb-40ea-98b1-32d2690499ac
Hill, W. David
0db96a02-aefa-4e10-b013-1a00eba51ac5
Weiss, Alexander
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Liewald, David C.
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Davies, Gail
8f2485ed-6813-4d29-bacd-2cca13301036
Porteous, David J.
528a267b-2740-4e39-b4e2-83b34170d6c3
Hayward, Caroline
8b58ae74-401a-4306-8b8f-c8414485131c
McIntosh, Andrew M.
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Gale, Catharine R.
5bb2abb3-7b53-42d6-8aa7-817e193140c8
Deary, Ian J.
027158ae-fbfb-40ea-98b1-32d2690499ac

Hill, W. David, Weiss, Alexander, Liewald, David C., Davies, Gail, Porteous, David J., Hayward, Caroline, McIntosh, Andrew M., Gale, Catharine R. and Deary, Ian J. (2019) Genetic contributions to two special factors of neuroticism are associated with affluence, higher intelligence, better health, and longer life. Molecular Psychiatry. (doi:10.1038/s41380-019-0387-3).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Higher scores on the personality trait of neuroticism, the tendency to experience negative emotions, are associated with worse mental and physical health. Studies examining links between neuroticism and health typically operationalize neuroticism by summing the items from a neuroticism scale. However, neuroticism is made up of multiple heterogeneous facets, each contributing to the effect of neuroticism as a whole. A recent study showed that a 12-item neuroticism scale described one broad trait of general neuroticism and two special factors, one characterizing the extent to which people worry and feel vulnerable, and the other characterizing the extent to which people are anxious and tense. This study also found that, although individuals who were higher on general neuroticism lived shorter lives, individuals whose neuroticism was characterized by worry and vulnerability lived longer lives. Here, we examine the genetic contributions to the two special factors of neuroticism—anxiety/tension and worry/vulnerability—and how they contrast with that of general neuroticism. First, we show that, whereas the polygenic load for neuroticism is associated with the genetic risk of coronary artery disease, lower intelligence, lower socioeconomic status (SES), and poorer self-rated health, the genetic variants associated with high levels of anxiety/tension, and high levels of worry/vulnerability are associated with genetic variants linked to higher SES, higher intelligence, better self-rated health, and longer life. Second, we identify genetic variants that are uniquely associated with these protective aspects of neuroticism. Finally, we show that different neurological pathways are linked to each of these neuroticism phenotypes.

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Accepted/In Press date: 22 February 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 13 March 2019

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Local EPrints ID: 429599
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/429599
ISSN: 1359-4184
PURE UUID: 638f9bc5-ad35-4278-8fbe-523de58e1bec
ORCID for Catharine R. Gale: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3361-8638

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Date deposited: 01 Apr 2019 16:30
Last modified: 02 Apr 2019 00:38

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Contributors

Author: W. David Hill
Author: Alexander Weiss
Author: David C. Liewald
Author: Gail Davies
Author: David J. Porteous
Author: Caroline Hayward
Author: Andrew M. McIntosh
Author: Ian J. Deary

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