Investigation of shared genetic effects for psychotic and obsessive symptoms in young adult twins

Corrado Fagnani, Marcella Bellani, Michele Tansella, Matteo Balestrieri, Virgilia Toccaceli, Valeria Patriarca, Maria Antonietta Stazi, Paolo Brambilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Genetic and environmental architecture of psychotic and obsessive symptoms are not completely elucidated. This study estimated for these symptoms (i) the genetic and environmental components, (ii) the within-individual association, and (iii) the extent to which this association originates from common genetic and environmental factors. Young adult twins (N=701) from the population-based Italian Twin Register were assessed for psychotic and obsessive-compulsive symptoms by using the Symptom Check List (SCL-90). Multivariate Cholesky models were fitted by the Mx statistical program. No previous study used this design to examine the same dimensions. The best-fitting model included additive genetic and nonshared environmental components, each accounting for about half of total variance in the symptoms. Genetic influences on the different symptoms overlapped considerably (rg=0.81 to 0.99). Phenotypic correlations of psychotic symptoms and of psychotic with obsessive symptoms were high (r=0.61 to 0.76), with 53% to 69% explained by shared genetic effects. This study shows substantial genetic influence on psychotic and obsessive symptoms, and indicates that their co-occurrence may be due to genetic factors to a greater extent than to environmental effects. These results encourage the search for genetic and environmental factors underlying the covariance between different psychotic traits as well as between psychotic and obsessive traits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-282
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 30 2011


  • Environment
  • Heritability
  • Interpersonal sensitivity
  • Paranoid ideation
  • Psychoticism
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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