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Twin Res Hum Genet. 2011 Feb;14(1):16-24. doi: 10.1375/twin.14.1.16.

Evidence of overlapping genetic diathesis of panic attacks and gastrointestinal disorders in a sample of male twin pairs.

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Genetics Program, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, United States of America.


We explored the comorbidity between panic attacks (PA), whose symptoms can include gastrointestinal discomfort, and gastrointestinal disorders (GD). Structural equation modeling was used to analyze data from 1,874 MZ and 1,498 DZ male-male twin pairs from the Vietnam Era Twin Registry. PA and GD were associated (relative risk for GD = 2). The percentage of liability due to genetic factors was estimated to be 37% for PA and 31% for GD. There was significant correlation between the genetic risk factors for PA and GD (estimated r = .55, 95% CI of 34% to 82%) and no evidence of correlation between the environmental causes of PA and GD. Therefore, PA and GD comorbidity can be explained by overlapping genetic factors and not overlapping environmental factors. Although these data cannot identify a biological pathway for such a shared liability, it suggests the presence of GD may be informative for genetic studies of panic.

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