Direct additive genetics and maternal effect contribute to the risk of Tourette disorder

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2023 Aug;94(8):638-642. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2022-330239. Epub 2023 Apr 26.


Background: Risk for Tourette disorder, and chronic motor or vocal tic disorders (referenced here inclusively as CTD), arise from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. While multiple studies have demonstrated the importance of direct additive genetic variation for CTD risk, little is known about the role of cross-generational transmission of genetic risk, such as maternal effect, which is not transmitted via the inherited parental genomes. Here, we partition sources of variation on CTD risk into direct additive genetic effect (narrow-sense heritability) and maternal effect.

Methods: The study population consists of 2 522 677 individuals from the Swedish Medical Birth Register, who were born in Sweden between 1 January 1973 and 31 December 2000, and followed for a diagnosis of CTD through 31 December, 2013. We used generalised linear mixed models to partition the liability of CTD into: direct additive genetic effect, genetic maternal effect and environmental maternal effect.

Results: We identified 6227 (0.2%) individuals in the birth cohort with a CTD diagnosis. A study of half-siblings showed that maternal half-siblings had twice higher risk of developing a CTD compared with paternal ones. We estimated 60.7% direct additive genetic effect (95% credible interval, 58.5% to 62.4%), 4.8% genetic maternal effect (95% credible interval, 4.4% to 5.1%) and 0.5% environmental maternal effect (95% credible interval, 0.2% to 7%).

Conclusions: Our results demonstrate genetic maternal effect contributes to the risk of CTD. Failure to account for maternal effect results in an incomplete understanding of the genetic risk architecture of CTD, as the risk for CTD is impacted by maternal effect which is above and beyond the risk from transmitted genetic effect.

Keywords: genetics; tourette syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Family
  • Humans
  • Maternal Inheritance
  • Risk Factors
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Tic Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Tic Disorders* / genetics
  • Tourette Syndrome* / genetics