Transpersonal genetic effects among older U.S. couples: A longitudinal study

TitleTranspersonal genetic effects among older U.S. couples: A longitudinal study
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsDas, A
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology: Series B
Date Published11
ISSN Number1079-5014
KeywordsCouples, genes, Genetics

Emerging social genetics research suggests one’s genes may influence not just one’s own outcomes but those of close social alters. Health implications, particularly in late life, remain underexplored. Using combined genetic and survey data, this study examined such transpersonal genetic associations among older U.S. couples.Data were from married or cohabiting couples in the 2006-2016 waves of the Health and Retirement Study, nationally representative of U.S. adults over 50. Measures included a polygenic score for educational attainment, and self rated health. Analysis was through parallel process latent growth models.Women’s as well as men’s genetic scores for education had transpersonal linkages with their partner’s health. Such associations were solely with life course variations and not late life change in outcomes. Moreover, they were indirect, mediated by educational attainment itself. Evidence also emerged for individual-level genetic effects mediated by the partner’s education.In addition to the subject-specific linkages emphasized in extant genetics literature, relational contexts involve multiple transpersonal genetic associations. These appear to have consequences for a partner’s as well as one’s own health. Life course theory indicates that a person is never not embedded in such contexts, suggesting that these patterns may be widespread. Research is needed on their implications for the life course as well as gene-environment correlation literatures.



Citation Key10.1093/geronb/gbz151