14th Annual IGSS Conference • October 20-21, 2023

Integrating Genetics and the Social Sciences 2023

Genetic predisposition to depression and its impact on children and adolescents: the Panel Study of Income Dynamics

Wei Zhao, University of Michigan

Major depression is a leading cause of disability that impacts adults as well as children and adolescents. Large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS), predominately conducted in adults, have identified hundreds of genetic loci that are associated with major depression. However, little is known about the role of these genetic risk factors in childhood and adolescent depression and associated behaviors. Furthermore, genetic factors can not only directly influence a child through inherited alleles (genetic nature), but can also indirectly influence a child through an environment shaped by the shared genome of close relatives (genetic nurture). It is unclear, to what extent, the genetic effects on childhood and adolescent depression and associated behaviors are mediated through direct (genetic nature) vs. indirect (genetic nurture) pathways. In this paper, we utilized the genetic data and depression-related measures collected from parent(primary caregiver)-offspring pairs of European ancestry in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to investigate: 1) whether depression polygenic risk score (PRS), developed using GWAS of predominantly adult samples, is associated with depression and associated behaviors in children and adolescents; and 2) the potential pathways (direct vs. indirect) mediating the genetic association. The preliminary results demonstrated that the depression PRS, developed using adult samples, predicts some depression-related measures in children and adolescents in PSID. Meanwhile, we present evidence suggesting that both direct (genetic nature) and indirect (genetic nurture) pathways are involved.

Presenter's website


Wei Zhao, University of Michigan
Emily Urban-Wojcik, University of Michigan
Meghan Seewald, University of Michigan
Narayan Sastry, University of Michigan