Journal Article

Genome-wide association analyses of risk tolerance and risky behaviors in over 1 million individuals identify hundreds of loci and shared genetic influences

Linnér, R. K., Biroli, P., Kong, E., Meddens, S. F. W., Wedow, R., Fontana, M. A., Lebreton, M., Tino, S. P., Abdellaoui, A., Hammerschlag, A. R., Nivard, M. G., Okbay, A., Rietveld, C. A., Timshel, P. N., Trzaskowski, M., de Vlaming, R., Zünd, C. L., Bao, Y., Buzdugan, L., Caplin, A. H., Chen, C.-Y., Eibich, P., Fontanillas, P., Gonzalez, J. R., Joshi, P. K., Karhunen, V., Kleinman, A., Levin, R. Z., Lill, C. M., Meddens, G. A., Muntané, G., Sanchez-Roige, S., van Rooij, F. J., Taskesen, E., Wu, Y., Zhang, F., 23 and Me Research Team, eQTLgen Consortium, International Cannabis Consortium, Social Science Genetic Association Consortium, Auton, A., Boardman, J. D., Clark, D. W., Conlin, A., Dolan, C. C., Fischbacher, U., Groenen, P. J. F., Harris, K. M., Hasler, G., Hofman, A., Ikram, M. A., Jain, S., Karlsson, R., Kessler, R. C., Kooyman, M., MacKillop, J., Männikkö, M., Morcillo-Suarez, C., McQueen, M. B., Schmidt, K. M., Smart, M. C., Sutter, M., Thurik, A. R., Uitterlinden, A. G., White, J., de Wit, H., Yang, J., Bertram, L., Boomsma, D. I., Esko, T., Fehr, E., Hinds, D. A., Johannesson, M., Kumari, M., Laibson, D., Magnusson, P. K. E., Meyer, M. N., Navarro, A., Palmer, A. A., Pers, T. H., Posthuma, D., Schunk, D., Stein, M. B., Svento, R., Tiemeier, H., Timmers, P. R. H. J., Turley, P., Ursano, R. J., Wagner , G. G., Wilson, J. F., Gratten, J., Lee, J. J., Cesarini, D., Benjamin, D. J., Koellinger, P. D., Beauchamp, J. P.
Nature Genetics, 51:2, 245–257 (2019)


Humans vary substantially in their willingness to take risks. In a combined sample of over 1 million individuals, we conducted genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of general risk tolerance, adventurousness, and risky behaviors in the driving, drinking, smoking, and sexual domains. Across all GWAS, we identified hundreds of associated loci, including 99 loci associated with general risk tolerance. We report evidence of substantial shared genetic influences across risk tolerance and the risky behaviors: 46 of the 99 general risk tolerance loci contain a lead SNP for at least one of our other GWAS, and general risk tolerance is genetically correlated (|r^g| ~ 0.25 to 0.50) with a range of risky behaviors. Bioinformatics analyses imply that genes near SNPs associated with general risk tolerance are highly expressed in brain tissues and point to a role for glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmission. We found no evidence of enrichment for genes previously hypothesized to relate to risk tolerance.

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.