Genetic overlap between psychotic experiences in the community across age and with psychiatric disorders

Wikus Barkhuizen, Oliver Pain, Frank Dudbridge, Angelica Ronald*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


This study explores the degree to which genetic influences on psychotic experiences are stable across adolescence and adulthood, and their overlap with psychiatric disorders. Genome-wide association results were obtained for adolescent psychotic experiences and negative symptom traits (N = 6297–10,098), schizotypy (N = 3967–4057) and positive psychotic experiences in adulthood (N = 116,787–117,794), schizophrenia (N = 150,064), bipolar disorder (N = 41,653), and depression (N = 173,005). Linkage disequilibrium score regression was used to estimate genetic correlations. Implicated genes from functional and gene-based analyses were compared. Mendelian randomization was performed on trait pairs with significant genetic correlations. Results indicated that subclinical auditory and visual hallucinations and delusions of persecution during adulthood were significantly genetically correlated with schizophrenia (rg = 0.27–0.67) and major depression (rg = 0.41–96) after correction for multiple testing. Auditory and visual subclinical hallucinations were highly genetically correlated (rg = 0.95). Cross-age genetic correlations for psychotic experiences were not significant. Gene mapping and association analyses revealed 14 possible genes associated with psychotic experiences that overlapped across age for psychotic experiences or between psychotic experiences and psychiatric disorders. Mendelian randomization indicated bidirectional associations between auditory and visual hallucinations in adults but did not support causal relationships between psychotic experiences and psychiatric disorders. These findings indicate that psychotic experiences in adulthood may be more linked genetically to schizophrenia and major depression than psychotic experiences in adolescence. Our study implicated specific genes that are associated with psychotic experiences across development, as well as genes shared between psychotic experiences and psychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number86
JournalTranslational psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


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