Preprint open access publication

A Major Role for Common Genetic Variation in Anxiety Disorders

bioRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory,


DOI:10.1101/203844, Dimensions: pub.1092271692,



  1. (1) King's College London, grid.13097.3c
  2. (2) NIHR Biomedical Research Centre; South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, ; London, UK
  3. (3) Child and Adolescent Mental Health Centre–Mental Health Services Capital Region, ; Copenhagen Region;, Denmark
  4. (4) Aarhus University Hospital, grid.154185.c, Central Denmark Region
  5. (5) Lundbeck Foundation, grid.452548.a
  6. (6) State Serum Institute, grid.6203.7
  7. (7) Aarhus University, grid.7048.b, AU
  8. (8) University Hospital Würzburg, grid.411760.5
  9. (9) Virginia Commonwealth University, grid.224260.0
  10. (10) Karolinska Institute, grid.4714.6
  11. (11) MRC Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, Edinburgh, UK
  12. (12) University of Edinburgh, grid.4305.2
  13. (13) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
  14. (14) Institute of Biological Psychiatry, Mental Health Centre Sct. Hans, Copenhagen University Hospital, Roskilde, Denmark
  15. (15) Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, MRC Institute of Genetics & Molecular Medicine, The University of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, UK


Abstract Anxiety disorders are common, complex psychiatric disorders with twin heritabilities of 30-60%. We conducted a genome-wide association study of Lifetime Anxiety Disorder (n = 83 565) and an additional Current Anxiety Symptoms (n= 77 125) analysis. The liability scale common variant heritability estimate for Lifetime Anxiety Disorder was 26%, and for Current Anxiety Symptoms was 31%. Five novel genome-wide significant loci were identified including an intergenic region on chromosome 9 that has previously been associated with neuroticism, and a locus overlapping the BDNF receptor gene, NTRK2 . Anxiety showed significant genetic correlations with depression and insomnia as well as coronary artery disease, mirroring findings from epidemiological studies. We conclude that common genetic variation accounts for a substantive proportion of the genetic architecture underlying anxiety.


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Times Cited: 13

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