Psychiatric polygenic risk as a predictor of COVID-19 risk and severity: insight into the genetic overlap between schizophrenia and COVID-19

Transl Psychiatry. 2023 Jun 6;13(1):189. doi: 10.1038/s41398-023-02482-7.


Despite the high contagion and mortality rates that have accompanied the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic, the clinical presentation of the syndrome varies greatly from one individual to another. Potential host factors that accompany greater risk from COVID-19 have been sought and schizophrenia (SCZ) patients seem to present more severe COVID-19 than control counterparts, with certain gene expression similarities between psychiatric and COVID-19 patients reported. We used summary statistics from the last SCZ, bipolar disorder (BD), and depression (DEP) meta-analyses available on the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium webpage to calculate polygenic risk scores (PRSs) for a target sample of 11,977 COVID-19 cases and 5943 subjects with unknown COVID-19 status. Linkage disequilibrium score (LDSC) regression analysis was performed when positive associations were obtained from the PRS analysis. The SCZ PRS was a significant predictor in the case/control, symptomatic/asymptomatic, and hospitalization/no hospitalization analyses in the total and female samples; and of symptomatic/asymptomatic status in men. No significant associations were found for the BD or DEP PRS or in the LDSC regression analysis. SNP-based genetic risk for SCZ, but not for BD or DEP, may be associated with higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 severity, especially among women; however, predictive accuracy barely exceeded chance level. We believe that the inclusion of sexual loci and rare variations in the analysis of genomic overlap between SCZ and COVID-19 will help to elucidate the genetic commonalities between these conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder* / metabolism
  • COVID-19* / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multifactorial Inheritance
  • SARS-CoV-2 / genetics
  • Schizophrenia* / genetics
  • Schizophrenia* / metabolism