A major role for common genetic variation in anxiety disorders

Mol Psychiatry. 2020 Dec;25(12):3292-3303. doi: 10.1038/s41380-019-0559-1. Epub 2019 Nov 20.


Anxiety disorders are common, complex psychiatric disorders with twin heritabilities of 30-60%. We conducted a genome-wide association study of Lifetime Anxiety Disorder (ncase = 25 453, ncontrol = 58 113) and an additional analysis of Current Anxiety Symptoms (ncase = 19 012, ncontrol = 58 113). The liability scale common variant heritability estimate for Lifetime Anxiety Disorder was 26%, and for Current Anxiety Symptoms was 31%. Five novel genome-wide significant loci were identified including an intergenic region on chromosome 9 that has previously been associated with neuroticism, and a locus overlapping the BDNF receptor gene, NTRK2. Anxiety showed significant positive genetic correlations with depression and insomnia as well as coronary artery disease, mirroring findings from epidemiological studies. We conclude that common genetic variation accounts for a substantive proportion of the genetic architecture underlying anxiety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease* / genetics
  • Genetic Variation / genetics
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Humans
  • Neuroticism
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics