A distinctive profile of family genetic risk scores in a Swedish national sample of cases of fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic fatigue syndrome compared to rheumatoid arthritis and major depression

Kenneth S Kendler*, Judith G M Rosmalen, Henrik Ohlsson, Jan Sundquist, Kristina Sundquist

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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BACKGROUND: Functional somatic disorders (FSD) feature medical symptoms of unclear etiology. Attempts to clarify their origin have been hampered by a lack of rigorous research designs. We sought to clarify the etiology of the FSD by examining the genetic risk patterns for FSD and other related disorders.

METHODS: This study was performed in 5 829 186 individuals from Swedish national registers. We quantified familial genetic risk for FSD, internalizing disorders, and somatic disorders in cases of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia (FM), and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), using a novel method based on aggregate risk in first to fifth degree relatives, adjusting for cohabitation. We compared these profiles with those of a prototypic internalizing psychiatric - major depression (MD) - and a somatic/autoimmune disorder: rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

RESULTS: Patients with FM carry substantial genetic risks not only for FM, but also for pain syndromes and internalizing, autoimmune and sleep disorders. The genetic risk profiles for IBS and CFS are also widely distributed although with lower average risks. By contrast, genetic risk profiles of MD and RA are much more restricted to related conditions.

CONCLUSION: Patients with FM have a relatively unique family genetic risk score profile with elevated genetic risk across a range of disorders that differs markedly from the profiles of a classic autoimmune disorder (RA) and internalizing disorder (MD). A similar less marked pattern of genetic risks was seen for IBS and CFS. FSD arise from a distinctive pattern of genetic liability for a diversity of psychiatric, autoimmune, pain, sleep, and functional somatic disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3879 - 3886
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number9
Early online date31-Mar-2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2023

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