Genetic and Phenotypic Stability of Measures of Neuroticism Over 22 Years

Genetic Epidermology, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Australia.
Twin Research and Human Genetics (Impact Factor: 2.3). 11/2007; 10(5):695-702. DOI: 10.1375/twin.10.5.695
Source: PubMed


People meeting diagnostic criteria for anxiety or depressive disorders tend to score high on the personality scale of neuroticism. Studying this dimension of personality can therefore give insights into the etiology of important psychiatric disorders. Neuroticism can be assessed easily via self-report questionnaires in large population samples. We have examined the genetic and phenotypic stability of neuroticism, measured up to 4 times over 22 years, on different scales, on a data set of 4,999 families with over 20,000 individuals completing at least 1 neuroticism questionnaire. The neuroticism scales used were the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire revised (EPQ-R), the EPQ-R shortened form, and the NEO 5 factor inventory personality questionnaire. The estimates of heritability of the individual measures ranged from .26 +/- .04 to .36 +/- .03. Genetic, environmental, and phenotypic correlations averaged .91, .42, and .57 respectively. Despite the range in heritabilities, a more parsimonious 'repeatability model' of equal additive genetic variances and genetic correlations of unity could not be rejected. Use of multiple measures increases the effective heritability from .33 for a single measure to .43 for mean score because of the reduction in the estimate of the environmental variance, and this will increase power in genetic linkage or association studies of neuroticism.

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    • "The result might suggest that psychoticism contributes to loneliness, but its association with loneliness might be independent of the left DLPFC structure. Many previous papers have reported that neuroticism and extraversion show temporal stability and heritability (Birley et al. 2006; Bratko and Butkovic 2007; Ivkovic et al. 2007; Wray et al. 2007) and are strongly associated with loneliness (Stokes 1985; Saklofske and Yackulic 1989; Halamandaris and Power 1999; Atak 2009). In fact, our behavioral data also showed that the t-scores for neuroticism and extraversion were significantly related to loneliness. "
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    ABSTRACT: Loneliness is an unpleasant and distressing feeling that a person experiences when he/she perceives that his/her social relationships are lacking in someway, either quantitatively or qualitatively; this can be linked to anxiety, depression, and suicide risk. Previous studies have found that certain personality traits (which are temporally stable and heritable) are predictors of loneliness. However, little empirical evidence is available on the brain structures associated with loneliness, as well as how personality traits impact the relationship between loneliness and brain structure. Thus, the current study used voxel-based morphometry to identify the brain structures underlying individual differences in loneliness (as measured by the UCLA Loneliness Scale) in a large sample, and then, applied multiple mediation analyses to explore the nature of the influence of personality traits on the relationship between loneliness and brain structure. The results showed that lonely individuals had greater regional gray matter volume in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which might reflect immature functioning in terms of emotional regulation. More importantly, we found that neuroticism and extraversion partially mediated the relationship between the left DLPFC and loneliness. In summary, through morphometric and multiple mediation analyses, this paper further validates the influence of both neuroticism and extraversion on loneliness.
    Experimental Brain Research 09/2014; 233(1). DOI:10.1007/s00221-014-4097-4 · 2.04 Impact Factor
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    • "We observed substantial heritabilities for all traits, which are in line with previous findings in the literature (e.g., neuroticism: 0.43–0.59 (e.g., Rettew et al., 2006, Wray et al., 2007), CRP: 0.22–0.76 (e.g., Su et al., 2009; Wörns et al., 2006), and fibrinogen: 0.34–0.52 "
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: Neuroticism is an important marker of vulnerability for both mental and physical disorders. Its link with multiple etiological pathways has been studied before. Inflammatory markers have been demonstrated to predict similar mental and physical disorders as neuroticism. However, currently no study has focused on the shared genetic background of neuroticism and inflammatory markers. In the present study we will focus on the phenotypic and genetic relationship between neuroticism and three commonly used inflammatory markers: C-reactive protein (CRP), fibrinogen and Immunoglobulin-G (IgG). Material and methods: The study was conducted in 125 Dutch female twin pairs. For each participant, four different neuroticism scores were available to calculate a neuroticism composite score that was used in the statistical analyses. Blood samples for inflammatory marker determination were taken after an overnight fast. Heritabilities, phenotypic and genetic correlations were estimated using bivariate structural equation modeling. Results: Heritabilities are fair for neuroticism (0.55), CRP (0.52) and fibrinogen (0.67) and moderate for IgG (0.43). No significant phenotypic or genetic correlations were found between neuroticism and the inflammatory markers. Interaction models yielded no moderation of the genetic and environmental pathways in the regulation of inflammatory markers by neuroticism. Conclusion: Substantial heritabilities were observed for all variables. No evidence was found for significant shared (or moderation of) genetic or environmental pathways underlying neuroticism and inflammatory status.
    Twin Research and Human Genetics 04/2014; 17(3):1-6. DOI:10.1017/thg.2014.19 · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    • "ORIGINAL ARTICLE steadily from 0.55 after 1 year to 0.41 over 20 years, to 0.25 after 40 years (Ormel & Rijsdijk, 2000 ; Roberts & DelVecchio, 2000 ; Wray et al. 2007). Indeed, changes in neuroticism have been reported for all ages (Roberts et al. 2001 ; Robins et al. 2001 ; Mroczek & Spiro, 2003 ; Small et al. 2003 ; Caspi et al. 2005 ; Scollon & Diener, 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: High neuroticism is prospectively associated with psychopathology and physical health. However, within-subject changes in neuroticism due to life experiences (LEs) or state effects of current psychopathology are largely unexplored. In this 2-year follow-up study, four hypotheses were tested: (1) positive LEs (PLEs) decrease and negative LEs (NLEs) increase neuroticism; (2) LE-driven change in neuroticism is partly long-lasting; and (3) partly independent of LE-driven changes in anxiety/depression; and (4) childhood adversity (before age 16 years) moderates the influence of NLEs/PLEs on neuroticism scores in adult life. Method: Data came from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety [NESDA, n = 2981, mean age 41.99 years (s.d. = 13.08), 66.6% women]. At follow-up (T₂) we assessed PLEs/NLEs with the List of Threatening Experiences (LTE) over the prior 24 months and categorized them over recent and distant PLE/NLE measures (1-3 and 4-24 months prior to T₂ respectively) to distinguish distant NLE/PLE-driven change in trait neuroticism (using the Dutch version of the Neuroticism-Extroversion-Openness Five Factor Inventory, NEO-FFI) from state deviations due to changes in symptoms of depression (self-rated version of the 30-item Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology, IDS-SR30) and anxiety (Beck Anxiety Inventory, BAI). Results: Distant NLEs were associated with higher and distant PLEs with lower neuroticism scores. The effects of distant LEs were weak but long-lasting, especially for distant PLEs. Distant NLE-driven change in neuroticism was associated with change in symptoms of anxiety/depression whereas the effect of distant PLEs on neuroticism was independent of any such changes. Childhood adversity weakened the impact of distant NLEs but enhanced the impact of distant PLEs on neuroticism. Conclusions: Distant PLEs are associated with small but long-lasting decreases in neuroticism regardless of changes in symptom levels of anxiety/depression. Long-lasting increases in neuroticism associated with distant NLEs are mediated by anxiety/depression.
    Psychological Medicine 02/2013; 43(11):1-13. DOI:10.1017/S0033291713000159 · 5.94 Impact Factor
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