What is the difference between hoarding and collecting? In general, collectors are described as people who have a passion for gathering things such as antiques, arts, stamps, or anything of particular value. They generally organize and display their collections to showcase them for others to see. On the other hand, hoarding is characterized by difficulty discarding or parting with possessions that others often consider trash. This unusual behavior results in clutter that impacts one's day-to-day. In addition, hoarding can be a symptom of multiple neurological and psychiatric disorders.
A recent study showed that hoarding is highly prevalent and heritable, with genetic factors accounting for approximately 50% of its variance. However, very few studies have examined the genetic architecture of hoarding, and their results have been largely inconsistent. Researchers conducted a genome-wide association study for hoarding traits in a large cohort of Caucasian twins to examine the relationship between hoarding traits and specific genetic variants.
In this study, a sub-sample of 3,410 participants had been genotyped. All participants completed the Hoarding Rating Scale-Self-Report, a brief self-administered questionnaire that evaluates five items: clutter, difficulty discarding, excessive acquisition, distress, and impairment. Each item is scored on a numerical scale from 0 (none) to 8 (extreme), with a total score of 0 to 40. Although no SNPs demonstrated strong enough evidence for a statistically significant association at a genome-wide level of significance, two genomic loci on chromosome 6 and chromosome 5 showed suggestive evidence for an association with hoarding traits. The most significant single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) was rs3747767 which is located near the Leber Congenital Amaurosis 5 gene (LCA5) on chromosome 6. Participants with the minor allele (A) of the SNP showed an increased tendency for hoarding traits.
On the contrary, participants with the minor allele (G) of rs984926 on chromosome 5 showed a decreased tendency for hoarding traits. Importantly, all these association signals remained at the same level of significance after adjustment for OCD traits (scores on the Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory-Revised; OCI-R), suggesting a specific effect of these SNPs on hoarding traits over and above OCD symptoms.
The researchers addressed that the main limitations of this study were the predominance of females and the use of a self-reported measure to assess hoarding. However, the HRS-SR is a common and effective scale for measuring hoarding. Read more about the study here: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21302353/
Are you interested in learning more about your genetic tendency for hoarding? You can login to your Genomelink YOUR TRAITS to see this new genetic trait.