Is the association of adulthood life stress with mental and physical health moderated by polygenic risk and exposome scores for schizophrenia?
This population-based cohort study of 6646 participants provides novel evidence of the associations of genetic and environmental liability for schizophrenia with mental health in the general population. Both genetic and environmental liability were associated with poor outcomes, particularly mental health, and the association between stressful life events and health outcomes was moderated by exposome score but not polygenic risk score for schizophrenia.
These findings showing an interaction between adulthood stressful life events and lifetime exposomic liability lend further support to the diathesis-stress model.
Both adulthood stressful life events (SLEs) and liability for schizophrenia have been associated with poor mental and physical health in the general population, but their interaction remains to be elucidated to improve population-based health outcomes.
To test whether recent SLEs interact with genetic and environmental liability for schizophrenia in models of mental and physical health.
Design, Setting, and Participants
The Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study–2 is a population-based prospective cohort study designed to investigate the prevalence, incidence, course, and consequences of mental disorders in the Dutch general population. Participants were enrolled from November 5, 2007, to July 31, 2009, and followed up with 3 assessments during 9 years. Follow-up was completed on June 19, 2018, and data were analyzed from September 1 to November 1, 2019.
Recent SLEs assessed at each wave and aggregate scores of genetic and environmental liability for schizophrenia: polygenic risk score for schizophrenia (PRS-SCZ) trained using the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium analysis results and exposome score for schizophrenia (ES-SCZ) trained using an independent data set.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Independent and interacting associations of SLEs with ES-SCZ and PRS-SCZ on mental and physical health assessed at each wave using regression coefficients.
Of the 6646 participants included at baseline, the mean (SD) age was 44.26 (12.54) years, and 3672 (55.25%) were female. The SLEs were associated with poorer physical health (B = −3.22 [95% CI, −3.66 to −2.79]) and mental health (B = −3.68 [95% CI, −4.05 to −3.32]). Genetic and environmental liability for schizophrenia was associated with poorer mental health (ES-SCZ: B = −3.07 [95% CI, −3.35 to −2.79]; PRS-SCZ: B = −0.93 [95% CI, −1.31 to −0.54]). Environmental liability was also associated with poorer physical health (B = −3.19 [95% CI, −3.56 to −2.82]). The interaction model showed that ES-SCZ moderated the association of SLEs with mental (B = −1.08 [95% CI, −1.47 to −0.69]) and physical health (B = −0.64 [95% CI, −1.11 to −0.17]), whereas PRS-SCZ did not. Several sensitivity analyses confirmed these results.
Conclusions and Relevance
In this study, schizophrenia liability was associated with broad mental health outcomes at the population level. Consistent with the diathesis-stress model, exposure to SLEs, particularly in individuals with high environmental liability for schizophrenia, was associated with poorer health. These findings underline the importance of modifiable environmental factors during the life span for population-based mental health outcomes.
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Pries L, van Os J, ten Have M, et al. Association of Recent Stressful Life Events With Mental and Physical Health in the Context of Genomic and Exposomic Liability for Schizophrenia. JAMA Psychiatry. 2020;77(12):1296–1304. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.2304
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