Phenotypic and genetic differentiation of anxiety-related behaviors in middle childhood. Depression and Anxiety, 26(4), 316-324

Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London, UK.
Depression and Anxiety (Impact Factor: 4.41). 04/2009; 26(4):316-24. DOI: 10.1002/da.20539
Source: PubMed


Anxiety-related behaviors (ARBs) are commonly observed during typical development, yet few studies have investigated their etiology in middle childhood. This study aimed to examine both the phenotypic and genetic differentiation of ARB subtypes within the general population at age 7 and 9. It constituted a follow-up to an earlier study of ARBs in preschool children.
We investigated the phenotypic structure of ARBs in a large population-based twin sample, comprising 7,834 twin pairs at age 7 and 3,644 twin pairs at age 9. Quantitative genetic modeling techniques were then used to determine the relative influences of genetic and environmental factors upon different types of ARB and upon the covariation between them.
Factor analysis supported the presence of five ARB factors at both ages: negative cognitions, negative affect, fear, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and social anxiety. Multivariate genetic analyses revealed significant genetic effects and a small but significant influence of shared environment for all ARB subtypes. There was a moderate level of genetic specificity for each subtype as well as some shared genetic effects. Shared environmental influences correlated highly across all types of ARB, whereas nonshared environmental effects were largely subtype specific.
The current results suggest that ARBs can be differentiated both phenotypically and genetically within middle childhood, with subtypes reflecting symptom groupings of diagnosable disorders but also aspects of temperament. Although some etiological risk factors lead to a generalized vulnerability to anxiety, others may serve to differentiate between different types of ARBs.

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Available from: Thalia C Eley, Oct 09, 2014
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    • "Note 1 Although Hallett et al. (2009) "
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    ABSTRACT: Little is known about the factors influencing the stability of obsessive-compulsive behaviour (OCB) from childhood to adolescence. The current study aimed to investigate: (1) the stability of paediatric OCB over a 12-year period; (2) the extent to which genetic and environmental factors influence stability; and (3) the extent to which these influences are stable or dynamic across development. The sample included 14 743 twins from a population-based study. Parental ratings of severity of OCB were collected at ages 4, 7, 9 and 16 years. OCB was found to be moderately stable over time. The genetic influence on OCB at each age was moderate, with significant effects also of non-shared environment. Genetic factors exerted a substantial influence on OCB persistence, explaining 59-80% of the stability over time. The results indicated genetic continuity, whereby genetic influences at each age continue to affect the expression of OCB at subsequent ages. However, we also found evidence for genetic attenuation in that genetic influences at one age decline in their influence over time, and genetic innovation whereby new genes 'come on line' at each age. Non-shared environment influenced stability of OCB to a lesser extent and effects were largely unique to each age and displayed negligible influences on OCB at later time points. OCB appears to be moderately stable across development, and stability is largely driven by genetic factors. However, the genetic effects are not entirely constant, but rather the genetic influence on OCB appears to be a developmentally dynamic process.
    Psychological Medicine 12/2014; 45(07):1-11. DOI:10.1017/S0033291714002761 · 5.94 Impact Factor
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    • "Anxiety was assessed using an age-adapted version of the parent-rated Anxiety-Related Behaviors Questionnaire (younger age versions are described elsewhere)33 and the self-rated Childhood Anxiety Sensitivity Index.34 Depression was assessed by self-ratings and parent ratings on the Short Moods and Feelings Questionnaire.35 Personality was assessed via self-report on a published scale.36 "
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    ABSTRACT: We aimed to characterize multiple psychotic experiences, each assessed on a spectrum of severity (ie, quantitatively), in a general population sample of adolescents. Over five thousand 16-year-old twins and their parents completed the newly devised Specific Psychotic Experiences Questionnaire (SPEQ); a subsample repeated it approximately 9 months later. SPEQ was investigated in terms of factor structure, intersubscale correlations, frequency of endorsement and reported distress, reliability and validity, associations with traits of anxiety, depression and personality, and sex differences. Principal component analysis revealed a 6-component solution: paranoia, hallucinations, cognitive disorganization, grandiosity, anhedonia, and parent-rated negative symptoms. These components formed the basis of 6 subscales. Correlations between different experiences were low to moderate. All SPEQ subscales, except Grandiosity, correlated significantly with traits of anxiety, depression, and neuroticism. Scales showed good internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and convergent validity. Girls endorsed more paranoia, hallucinations, and cognitive disorganization; boys reported more grandiosity and anhedonia and had more parent-rated negative symptoms. As in adults at high risk for psychosis and with psychotic disorders, psychotic experiences in adolescents are characterized by multiple components. The study of psychotic experiences as distinct dimensional quantitative traits is likely to prove an important strategy for future research, and the SPEQ is a self- and parent-report questionnaire battery that embodies this approach.
    Schizophrenia Bulletin 09/2013; 40(4). DOI:10.1093/schbul/sbt106 · 8.45 Impact Factor
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    • "[9]. Multivariate genetic studies indicate genetic overlap as well as specificity between different aspects of anxiety and from age to age as early as the preschool years [10] and into middle childhood [11] and adolescence [12], [13]. At age 7, the age of the twins in the present study, parent ratings of anxiety-related traits have been shown to be moderately heritable with both domain-general and trait-specific genetic effects [11]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Twin studies have shown that anxiety in a general population sample of children involves both domain-general and trait-specific genetic effects. For this reason, in an attempt to identify genes responsible for these effects, we investigated domain-general and trait-specific genetic associations in the first genome-wide association (GWA) study on anxiety-related behaviours (ARBs) in childhood. Methods The sample included 2810 7-year-olds drawn from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) with data available for parent-rated anxiety and genome-wide DNA markers. The measure was the Anxiety-Related Behaviours Questionnaire (ARBQ), which assesses four anxiety traits and also yields a general anxiety composite. Affymetrix GeneChip 6.0 DNA arrays were used to genotype nearly 700,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and IMPUTE v2 was used to impute more than 1 million SNPs. Several GWA associations from this discovery sample were followed up in another TEDS sample of 4804 children. In addition, Genome-wide Complex Trait Analysis (GCTA) was used on the discovery sample, to estimate the total amount of variance in ARBs that can be accounted for by SNPs on the array. Results No SNP associations met the demanding criterion of genome-wide significance that corrects for multiple testing across the genome (p<5×10<sup>−8</sup>). Attempts to replicate the top associations did not yield significant results. In contrast to the substantial twin study estimates of heritability which ranged from 0.50 (0.03) to 0.61 (0.01), the GCTA estimates of phenotypic variance accounted for by the SNPs were much lower 0.01 (0.11) to 0.19 (0.12). Conclusions Taken together, these GWAS and GCTA results suggest that anxiety – similar to height, weight and intelligence − is affected by many genetic variants of small effect, but unlike these other prototypical polygenic traits, genetic influence on anxiety is not well tagged by common SNPs.
    PLoS ONE 04/2013; 8(4-4):e58676. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0058676 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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