Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND:Circadian rhythms are fundamental to health and are particularly important for mental wellbeing. Disrupted rhythms of rest and activity are recognised as risk factors for major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. METHODS:We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of low relative amplitude (RA), an objective measure of rest-activity cycles derived from the accelerometer data of 71,500 UK Biobank participants. Polygenic risk scores (PRS) for low RA were used to investigate potential associations with psychiatric phenotypes. OUTCOMES:Two independent genetic loci were associated with low RA, within genomic regions for Neurofascin (NFASC) and Solute Carrier Family 25 Member 17 (SLC25A17). A secondary GWAS of RA as a continuous measure identified a locus within Meis Homeobox 1 (MEIS1). There were no significant genetic correlations between low RA and any of the psychiatric phenotypes assessed. However, PRS for low RA was significantly associated with mood instability across multiple PRS thresholds (at PRS threshold 0·05: OR = 1·02, 95% CI = 1·01-1·02, p = 9·6 × 10-5), and with major depressive disorder (at PRS threshold 0·1: OR = 1·03, 95% CI = 1·01-1·05, p = 0·025) and neuroticism (at PRS threshold 0·5: Beta = 0·02, 95% CI = 0·007-0·04, p = 0·021). INTERPRETATION:Overall, our findings contribute new knowledge on the complex genetic architecture of circadian rhythmicity and suggest a putative biological link between disrupted circadian function and mood disorder phenotypes, particularly mood instability, but also major depressive disorder and neuroticism. FUNDING:Medical Research Council (MR/K501335/1).

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





279 - 287


Institute of Health & Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK. Electronic address:


Humans, Mental Disorders, Mood Disorders, Circadian Rhythm, Multifactorial Inheritance, Phenotype, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Quantitative Trait Loci, Adult, Aged, Middle Aged, Biological Specimen Banks, Genome-Wide Association Study