Examining facial emotion recognition as an intermediate phenotype for psychosis: Findings from the EUGEI study

L. Fusar-Poli, L.K. Pries, J. van Os, G. Erzin, P. Delespaul, G. Kenis, J.J. Luykx, B.C.D. Lin, A.L. Richards, B. Akdede, T. Binbay, V. Altinyazar, B. Yalincetin, G. Gumus-Akay, B. Cihan, H. Soygur, H. Ulas, E.S. Cankurtaran, S.U. Kaymak, M.M. MihaljevicS. Andric-Petrovic, T. Mirjanic, M. Bernardo, G. Mezquida, S. Amoretti, J. Bobes, P.A. Saiz, M.P. Garcia-Portilla, J. Sanjuan, E.J. Aguilar, J.L. Santos, E. Jimenez-Lopez, M. Arrojo, A. Carracedo, G. Lopez, J. Gonzalez-Penas, M. Parellada, N.P. Maric, C. Atbasoglu, A. Ucok, K. Alptekin, M.C. Saka, E. Aguglia, C. Arango, M. O'Donovan, B.P.F. Rutten, S. Guloksuz*, Genetic Risk and Outcome of Psychosis (GROUP) Investigators

*Corresponding author for this work

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4 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: Social cognition impairments, such as facial emotion recognition (FER), have been acknowledged since the earliest description of schizophrenia. Here, we tested FER as an intermediate phenotype for psychosis using two approaches that are indicators of genetic risk for schizophrenia: the proxy-genetic risk approach (family design) and the polygenic risk score for schizophrenia (PRS-SCZ).Methods: The sample comprised 2039 individuals with schizophrenia, 2141 siblings, and 2049 healthy controls (HC). The Degraded Facial Affect Recognition Task (DFAR) was applied to measure the FER accuracy. Schizotypal traits in siblings and HC were assessed using the Structured Interview for Schizotypy-Revised (SIS-R). The PRS-SCZ was trained using the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium results. Regression models were applied to test the association of DFAR with psychosis risk, SIS-R, and PRS-SCZ.Results: The DFAR-total scores were lower in individuals with schizophrenia than in siblings (RR = 0.97 [95% CI 0.97, 0.97]), who scored lower than HC (RR = 0.99 [95% CI 0.99-1.00]). The DFAR-total scores were negatively associated with SIS-R total scores in siblings (B = -2.04 [95% CI -3.72, -0.36]) and HC (B = -2.93 [95% CI -5.50, -0.36]). Different patterns of association were observed for individual emotions. No significant associations were found between DFAR scores and PRS-SCZ.Conclusions: Our findings based on a proxy genetic risk approach suggest that FER deficits may represent an intermediate phenotype for schizophrenia. However, a significant association between FER and PRS-SCZ was not found. In the future, genetic mechanisms underlying FER phenotypes should be investigated trans-diagnostically.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110440
Number of pages9
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2022


  • Schizophrenia
  • Emotion
  • Social cognition
  • Schizotypal traits
  • Polygenic risk score

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