Genetic correlations between pain phenotypes and depression and neuroticism

Weihua Meng (Lead / Corresponding author), Mark J. Adams, Parminder Reel, Aravind Rajendrakumar, Yu Huang, Ian J. Deary, Colin N. A. Palmer, Andrew M. McIntosh, Blair H. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
82 Downloads (Pure)


Correlations between pain phenotypes and psychiatric traits such as depression and the personality trait of neuroticism are not fully understood. In this study, we estimated the genetic correlations of eight pain phenotypes (defined by the UK Biobank, n = 151,922–226,683) with depressive symptoms, major depressive disorders and neuroticism using the the cross-trait linkage disequilibrium score regression (LDSC) method integrated in the LD Hub. We also used the LDSC software to calculate the genetic correlations among pain phenotypes. All pain phenotypes, except hip pain and knee pain, had significant and positive genetic correlations with depressive symptoms, major depressive disorders and neuroticism. All pain phenotypes were heritable, with pain all over the body showing the highest heritability (h 2 = 0.31, standard error = 0.072). Many pain phenotypes had positive and significant genetic correlations with each other indicating shared genetic mechanisms. Our results suggest that pain, neuroticism and depression share partially overlapping genetic risk factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-366
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Early online date29 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Genetic correlation
  • pain
  • genome-wide association study
  • UK Biobank
  • depression
  • neuroticism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Genetics


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