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IMPORTANCE: Schizophrenia has a complex etiology influenced both by genetic and nongenetic factors but disentangling these factors is difficult. OBJECTIVE: To estimate (1) how strongly the risk for schizophrenia relates to the mutual effect of the polygenic risk score, parental socioeconomic status, and family history of psychiatric disorders; (2) the fraction of cases that could be prevented if no one was exposed to these factors; (3) whether family background interacts with an individual's genetic liability so that specific subgroups are particularly risk prone; and (4) to what extent a proband's genetic makeup mediates the risk associated with familial background. DESIGN, SETTINGS, AND PARTICIPANTS: We conducted a nested case-control study based on Danish population-based registers. The study consisted of 866 patients diagnosed as having schizophrenia between January 1, 1994, and December 31, 2006, and 871 matched control individuals. Genome-wide data and family psychiatric and socioeconomic background information were obtained from neonatal biobanks and national registers. Results from a separate meta-analysis (34,600 cases and 45,968 control individuals) were applied to calculate polygenic risk scores. EXPOSURES: Polygenic risk scores, parental socioeconomic status, and family psychiatric history. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Odds ratios (ORs), attributable risks, liability R2 values, and proportions mediated. RESULTS: Schizophrenia was associated with the polygenic risk score (OR, 8.01; 95% CI, 4.53-14.16 for highest vs lowest decile), socioeconomic status (OR, 8.10; 95% CI, 3.24-20.3 for 6 vs no exposures), and a history of schizophrenia/psychoses (OR, 4.18; 95% CI, 2.57-6.79). The R2 values were 3.4% (95% CI, 2.1-4.6) for the polygenic risk score, 3.1% (95% CI, 1.9-4.3) for parental socioeconomic status, and 3.4% (95% CI, 2.1-4.6) for family history. Socioeconomic status and psychiatric history accounted for 45.8% (95% CI, 36.1-55.5) and 25.8% (95% CI, 21.2-30.5) of cases, respectively. There was an interaction between the polygenic risk score and family history (P = .03). A total of 17.4% (95% CI, 9.1-26.6) of the effect associated with family history of schizophrenia/psychoses was mediated through the polygenic risk score. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Schizophrenia was associated with the polygenic risk score, family psychiatric history, and socioeconomic status. Our study demonstrated that family history of schizophrenia/psychoses is partly mediated through the individual's genetic liability.

Original publication




Journal article


JAMA Psychiatry

Publication Date





635 - 641


Bipolar Disorder, Case-Control Studies, Denmark, Family, Female, Genetic Association Studies, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Humans, Male, Multifactorial Inheritance, Odds Ratio, Parents, Psychotic Disorders, Risk Factors, Schizophrenia, Social Class