Polygenic risk, familial liability and stress reactivity in psychosis: an experience sampling study

A. Schick, R. van Winkel, B.C.D. Lin, J.J. Luykx, S.M.C. de Zwarte, K.R. van Eijk, I. Myin-Germeys, U. Reininghaus*, Genetic Risk and Outcome of Psychosis (GROUP) Investigators

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background There is evidence for a polygenic contribution to psychosis. One targetable mechanism through which polygenic variation may impact on individuals and interact with the social environment is stress sensitization, characterized by elevated reactivity to minor stressors in daily life. The current study aimed to investigate whether stress reactivity is modified by polygenic risk score for schizophrenia (PRS) in cases with enduring non-affective psychotic disorder, first-degree relatives of cases, and controls. Methods We used the experience sampling method to assess minor stressors, negative affect, positive affect and psychotic experiences in 96 cases, 79 first-degree relatives, i.e. siblings, and 73 controls at wave 3 of the Dutch Genetic Risk and Outcome of Psychosis (GROUP) study. Genome-wide data were collected at baseline to calculate PRS. Results We found that associations of momentary stress with psychotic experiences, but not with negative and positive affect, were modified by PRS and group (all pFWE<0.001). In contrast to our hypotheses, siblings with high PRS reported less intense psychotic experiences in response to momentary stress compared to siblings with low PRS. No differences in magnitude of these associations were observed in cases with high v. low level of PRS. By contrast, controls with high PRS showed more intense psychotic experiences in response to stress compared to those with low PRS. Conclusions This tentatively suggests that polygenic risk may operate in different ways than previously assumed and amplify reactivity to stress in unaffected individuals but operate as a resilience factor in relatives by attenuating their stress reactivity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0033291721004761
Pages (from-to)2798-2807
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number7
Early online date7 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2023


  • Digital phenotyping
  • ecological momentary assessment
  • gene-environment interaction
  • polygenic risk
  • stress sensitivity


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