Genome-wide association study for risk taking propensity indicates shared pathways with body mass index.

12 Jun 2018

Risk-taking propensity is a trait of significant public health relevance but few specific genetic factors are known. Here we perform a genome-wide association study of self-reported risk-taking propensity among 436,236 white European UK Biobank study participants. We identify genome-wide associations at 26 loci (P < 5 × 10-8), 24 of which are novel, implicating genes enriched in the GABA and GABA receptor pathways. Modelling the relationship between risk-taking propensity and body mass index (BMI) using Mendelian randomisation shows a positive association (0.25 approximate SDs of BMI (SE: 0.06); P = 6.7 × 10-5). The impact of individual SNPs is heterogeneous, indicating a complex relationship arising from multiple shared pathways. We identify positive genetic correlations between risk-taking and waist-hip ratio, childhood obesity, ever smoking, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, alongside a negative correlation with women's age at first birth. These findings highlight that behavioural pathways involved in risk-taking propensity may play a role in obesity, smoking and psychiatric disorders.