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Sci Rep. 2017 Nov 10;7(1):15351. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-11852-3.

Hair Cortisol in Twins: Heritability and Genetic Overlap with Psychological Variables and Stress-System Genes.

Collaborators (214)

Bolton JL, Hayward C, Direk N, Anderson A, Huffman J, Wilson JF, Campbell H, Rudan I, Wright A, Hastie N, Wild SH, Velders FP, Hofman A, Uitterlinden AG, Lahti J, Räikkönen K, Kajantie E, Widen E, Palotie A, Eriksson JG, Kaakinen M, Järvelin MR, Timpson NJ, Davey Smith G, Ring SM, Evans DM, St Pourcain B, Tanaka T, Milaneschi Y, Bandinelli S, Ferrucci L, van der Harst P, Rosmalen JG, Bakker SJ, Verweij N, Dullaart RP, Mahajan A, Lindgren CM, Morris A, Lind L, Ingelsson E, Anderson LN, Pennell CE, Lye SJ, Matthews SG, Eriksson J, Mellstrom D, Ohlsson C, Price JF, Strachan MW, Reynolds RM, Tiemeier H, Ripke S, Mattheisen M, Abdellaoui A, Adams MJ, Agerbo E, Air TM, Andlauer TF, Bacanu SA, Bækvad-Hansen M, Beekman AT, Bennett DA, Berger K, Bigdeli TB, Bybjerg-Grauholm J, Byrne EM, Cai N, Castelao E, Clarke TK, Coleman JR, Consortium C, Craddock N, Dannlowski U, Davies G, Davies G, de Geus EJC, De Jager P, Deary IJ, Degenhardt F, Dunn EC, Ehli EA, Eley TC, Escott-Price V, Esko T, Finucane HK, Gill M, Gordon SD, Grove J, Hall LS, Hansen TF, Søholm Hansen C, Hansen TF, Heath AC, Henders AK, Herms S, Hoffmann P, Homuth G, Horn C, Hottenga JJ, Hougaard D, Huang H, Ising M, Jansen R, Jorgenson E, Kloiber S, Knowles JA, Kretzschmar WW, Krogh J, Kutalik Z, Lang M, Lewis G, Li Y, MacIntyre DJ, Madden PA, Marchine J, Mbarek H, McGuffin P, Mehta D, Metspalu A, Middeldorp CM, Mihailov E, Milani L, Montgomery GW, Mostafavi S, Mullins N, Nauck M, Ng B, Nordentoft M, Nyholt DR, O'Donovan MC, O'Reilly PF, Oskarsson H, Owen MJ, Paciga SA, Pedersen CB, Pedersen MG, Pedersen NL, Pergadia ML, Peterson RE, Pettersson E, Peyrot WJ, Porteous DJ, Posthuma D, Potash JB, Quiroz JA, Rice JP, Riley BP, Rivera M, Ruderfer DM, Saeed Mirza S, Schoevers R, Shen L, Shi J, Sigurdsson E, Sinnamon GC, Smit JH, Smith DJ, Smoller JW, Stephansson H, Steinberg S, Strohmaier J, Tansey KE, Teumer A, Thompson W, Thomson PA, Thorgeirsson TE, Treutlein J, Trzaskowski M, Umbricht D, van der Auwera S, van Grootheest G, van Hemert AM, Viktorin A, Völzke H, Wang Y, Webb BT, Weissman MM, Wellmann J, Willemsen G, Xi HS, Baune BT, Blackwood DHR, Boomsma DI, Børglum AD, Buttenschøn HN, Cichon S, Domenici E, Flint J, Grabe HJ, Hamilton SP, Kendler KS, Li QS, Lucae S, Magnusson PK, McIntosh AM, Mors O, Bo Mortensen P, Müller-Myhsok B, Penninx BW, Perlis RH, Preisig M, Schaefer C, Smoller JW, Stephansson K, Tiemeier H, Uher R, Werge T, Winslow AR, Breen G, Levinson DF, Lewis CM, Wray NR, Sullivan PF.

Author information

1
University Hospital of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Research Department, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland. Liz.Rietschel@srh.de.
2
SRH University Heidelberg, Academy for Psychotherapy, Heidelberg, Germany. Liz.Rietschel@srh.de.
3
Department of Genetic Epidemiology in Psychiatry, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany.
4
Genetics & Computational Biology Department, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research, Brisbane, Australia.
5
Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
6
Zurich Institute of Forensic Medicine, Centre for Forensic Hair Analysis, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
7
Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, The Park Centre for Mental Health, Wacol, Australia.
8
National Centre for Register-Based Research, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.
9
Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
10
Centre for Advanced Imaging, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
11
Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA.
12
Institute of Human Genetics, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.
13
Life & Brain Center, Department of Genomics, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.
14
Department of Psychiatry (UPK), University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.
15
Human Genomics Research Group, Department of Biomedicine, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.
16
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA.
17
Institute of Psychiatric Phenomics and Genomics (IPPG), Medical Center of the University of Munich, Campus Innenstadt, Munich, DE, Germany.
18
Human Genetics Branch, NIMH Division of Intramural Research Programs, Bethesda, USA.
19
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Göttingen, Goettingen, DE, Germany.
20
Institute of Experimental Psychology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany.
21
British Heart Foundation Centre for Cardiovascular Science, Queen's Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.
22
Medical Research Council Integrative Epidemiology Unit, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.

Abstract

Hair cortisol concentration (HCC) is a promising measure of long-term hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity. Previous research has suggested an association between HCC and psychological variables, and initial studies of inter-individual variance in HCC have implicated genetic factors. However, whether HCC and psychological variables share genetic risk factors remains unclear. The aims of the present twin study were to: (i) assess the heritability of HCC; (ii) estimate the phenotypic and genetic correlation between HPA axis activity and the psychological variables perceived stress, depressive symptoms, and neuroticism; using formal genetic twin models and molecular genetic methods, i.e. polygenic risk scores (PRS). HCC was measured in 671 adolescents and young adults. These included 115 monozygotic and 183 dizygotic twin-pairs. For 432 subjects PRS scores for plasma cortisol, major depression, and neuroticism were calculated using data from large genome wide association studies. The twin model revealed a heritability for HCC of 72%. No significant phenotypic or genetic correlation was found between HCC and the three psychological variables of interest. PRS did not explain variance in HCC. The present data suggest that HCC is highly heritable. However, the data do not support a strong biological link between HCC and any of the investigated psychological variables.

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