Disease trajectory of high neuroticism and the relevance to psychiatric disorders: A retro-prospective cohort study

Ding Xia, Xin Han, Yu Zeng, Jingru Wang, Kelin Xu, Tiejun Zhang, Yanfeng Jiang, Xingdong Chen, Huan Song*, Chen Suo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Neuroticism is a psychological personality trait that has a significant impact on public health and is also a potential predisposing factor for adverse disease outcomes; however, comprehensive studies of the subsequently developed conditions are lacking. The starting point of disease trajectory in terms of genetic variation remains unclear. Method: Our study included 344,609 adult participants from the UK Biobank cohort who were virtually followed up from January 1, 1997. Neuroticism levels were assessed using 12 items from the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire. We performed a phenome-wide association analysis of neuroticism and subsequent diseases. Binomial tests and logistic regression models were used to test the temporal directionality and association between disease pairs to construct disease trajectories. We also investigated the association between polygenic risk scores (PRSs) for five psychiatric traits and high neuroticism. Results: The risk for 59 diseases was significantly associated with high neuroticism. Depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine, spondylosis, and sleep disorders were the most likely to develop, with hazard ratios of 6.13, 3.66, 2.28, 1.74, 1.74, and 1.71, respectively. The disease trajectory network revealed two major disease clusters: cardiometabolic and chronic inflammatory diseases. Medium/high genetic risk groups stratified by the PRSs of four psychiatric traits were associated with an elevated risk of high neuroticism. We further identified eight complete phenotypic trajectory clusters of medium or high genetic risk for psychotic, anxiety-, depression-, and stress-related disorders. Conclusion: Neuroticism plays an important role in the development of somatic and mental disorders. The full picture of disease trajectories from the genetic risk of psychiatric traits and neuroticism in early life to a series of diseases later provides evidence for future research to explore the etiological mechanisms and precision management.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Other keywords

  • disease trajectory
  • genetic risk
  • neuroticism
  • phenome-wide association study
  • psychiatric disorder


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