Evidence for interaction between genetic liability and childhood trauma in the development of psychotic symptoms.Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 2019; 54(9):1045-1054SP
Whilst childhood trauma (CT) is a known risk factor across the spectrum of psychosis expression, little is known about possible interplay with genetic liability.
The TwinssCan Study collected data in general population twins, focussing on expression of psychosis at the level of subthreshold psychotic experiences. A multilevel mixed-effects linear regression analysis was performed including 745 subjects to assess the interaction between genetic liability and CT. The Symptom Checklist-90 (SCL-90-R) score of the co-twin was used as an indirect measure of genetic liability to psychopathology, while the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire Short-Form (CTQ-SF) was used to assess CT in the domains of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, as well as physical and emotional neglect. The Community Assessment of Psychic Experience (CAPE) questionnaire was used to phenotypically characterize psychosis expression.
In the model using the CAPE total score, the interaction between CT and genetic liability was close to statistical significance (χ2 = 5.6, df = 2, p = 0.06). Analyses of CAPE subscales revealed a significant interaction between CT and genetic liability (χ2 = 8.8, df = 2, p = 0.012) for the CAPE-negative symptoms subscale, but not for the other two subscales (i.e. positive and depressive).
The results suggest that the impact of CT on subthreshold expression of psychosis, particularly in the negative subdomain, may be larger in the co-presence of significant genetic liability for psychopathology.