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Polygenic Risk Scores for Psychiatric Disorders Reveal Novel Clues About the Genetics of Disordered Gambling

  • Thomas M. Piasecki (a1), Ian R. Gizer (a1) and Wendy S. Slutske (a1)


Disordered gambling (DG) is a rare but serious condition that results in considerable financial and interpersonal harms. Twin studies indicate that DG is heritable but are silent with respect to specific genes or pathways involved. Existing genomewide association studies (GWAS) of DG have been substantially underpowered. Larger GWAS of other psychiatric disorders now permit calculation of polygenic risk scores (PRSs) that reflect the aggregated effects of common genetic variants contributing risk for the target condition. The current study investigated whether gambling and DG are associated with PRSs for four psychiatric conditions found to be comorbid with DG in epidemiologic surveys: major depressive disorder (MDD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder (BD) and schizophrenia (SCZ). Genotype data and survey responses were analyzed from the Wave IV assessment (conducted in 2008) of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, a representative sample of adolescents recruited in 1994–1995 and followed into adulthood. Among participants classified as having European ancestry based on genetic analysis (N = 5215), 78.4% reported ever having gambled, and 1.3% reported lifetime DG. Polygenic risk for BD was associated with decreased odds of lifetime gambling, OR = 0.93 [0.87, 0.99], p = .045, pseudo-R2(%) = .12. The SCZ PRS was associated with increased odds of DG, OR = 1.54 [1.07, 2.21], p = .02, pseudo-R2(%) = .85. Polygenic risk scores for MDD and ADHD were not related to either gambling outcome. Investigating features common to both SCZ and DG might generate valuable clues about the genetically influenced liabilities to DG.


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Author for correspondence: Thomas M. Piasecki, Email:


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Polygenic Risk Scores for Psychiatric Disorders Reveal Novel Clues About the Genetics of Disordered Gambling

  • Thomas M. Piasecki (a1), Ian R. Gizer (a1) and Wendy S. Slutske (a1)


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