Examining Sex-Differentiated Genetic Effects Across Neuropsychiatric and Behavioral Traits.
Martin J., Khramtsova EA., Goleva SB., Blokland GAM., Traglia M., Walters RK., Hübel C., Coleman JRI., Breen G., Børglum AD., Demontis D., Grove J., Werge T., Bralten J., Bulik CM., Lee PH., Mathews CA., Peterson RE., Winham SJ., Wray N., Edenberg HJ., Guo W., Yao Y., Neale BM., Faraone SV., Petryshen TL., Weiss LA., Duncan LE., Goldstein JM., Smoller JW., Stranger BE., Davis LK., Sex Differences Cross-Disorder Analysis Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium None.
BackgroundThe origin of sex differences in prevalence and presentation of neuropsychiatric and behavioral traits is largely unknown. Given established genetic contributions and correlations, we tested for a sex-differentiated genetic architecture within and between traits.MethodsUsing European ancestry genome-wide association summary statistics for 20 neuropsychiatric and behavioral traits, we tested for sex differences in single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-based heritability and genetic correlation (rg < 1). For each trait, we computed per-SNP z scores from sex-stratified regression coefficients and identified genes with sex-differentiated effects using a gene-based approach. We calculated correlation coefficients between z scores to test for shared sex-differentiated effects. Finally, we tested for sex differences in across-trait genetic correlations.ResultsWe observed no consistent sex differences in SNP-based heritability. Between-sex, within-trait genetic correlations were high, although <1 for educational attainment and risk-taking behavior. We identified 4 genes with significant sex-differentiated effects across 3 traits. Several trait pairs shared sex-differentiated effects. The top genes with sex-differentiated effects were enriched for multiple gene sets, including neuron- and synapse-related sets. Most between-trait genetic correlation estimates were not significantly different between sexes, with exceptions (educational attainment and risk-taking behavior).ConclusionsSex differences in the common autosomal genetic architecture of neuropsychiatric and behavioral phenotypes are small and polygenic and unlikely to fully account for observed sex-differentiated attributes. Larger sample sizes are needed to identify sex-differentiated effects for most traits. For well-powered studies, we identified genes with sex-differentiated effects that were enriched for neuron-related and other biological functions. This work motivates further investigation of genetic and environmental influences on sex differences.