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Alcohol use is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. We examined the interactive effects between genome-wide polygenic risk scores for alcohol use (alc-PRS) and social support in relation to alcohol use among European American (EA) and African American (AA) adults across sex and developmental stages (emerging adulthood, young adulthood, and middle adulthood). Data were drawn from 4,011 EA and 1,274 AA adults from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism who were between ages 18–65 and had ever used alcohol. Participants completed the Semi-Structured Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism and provided saliva or blood samples for genotyping. Results indicated that social support from friends, but not family, moderated the association between alc-PRS and alcohol use among EAs and AAs (only in middle adulthood for AAs); alc-PRS was associated with higher levels of alcohol use when friend support was low, but not when friend support was high. Associations were similar across sex but differed across developmental stages. Findings support the important role of social support from friends in buffering genetic risk for alcohol use among EA and AA adults and highlight the need to consider developmental changes in the role of social support in relation to alcohol use.
The transition to college is a time of increased opportunity and stress spanning multiple domains. Adolescents who encounter significant stress during this transition may be vulnerable to adverse outcomes due to a “wear and tear” of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis. Latino/a students may be particularly at-risk for heightened stress exposure due to experiences of both minority-specific and general life stress. Despite this, little is known regarding the cumulative impact of multiple stressors on Latino/a students’ HPA axis functioning. The present study employed a “multi-risk model” approach to examine additive, common, and cumulative effects of multiple stress forms (general, academic, social, financial, bicultural, ethnic/racial discrimination) on diurnal cortisol in a sample of first-year Latino/a college students (N = 196; 64.4% female; Mage = 18.95). Results indicated that no stress forms were additively associated with the cortisol awakening response (CAR), but general stress was associated with a flatter diurnal cortisol slope (DCS) and bicultural stress was linked with a steeper DCS. A college stress latent factor was associated with a lower CAR, whereas a latent factor of discrimination was not associated with diurnal cortisol. Cumulative risk was linked with a lower CAR. Findings highlight the physiological correlates of various stressors experienced by Latino/a college students.
This study examined the independent and interactive effects of genetic risk for alcohol use disorder (AUD), parenting behaviors, and family environment on childhood impulsivity. Data were drawn from White (n = 5,991), Black/African American (n = 1,693), and Hispanic/Latino (n = 2,118) youth who completed the baseline assessment (age 9–10) and had genotypic data available from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study. Participants completed questionnaires and provided saliva or blood samples for genotyping. Results indicated no significant main effects of AUD genome-wide polygenic scores (AUD-PRS) on childhood impulsivity as measured by the UPPS-P scale across racial/ethnic groups. In general, parental monitoring and parental acceptance were associated with lower impulsivity; family conflict was associated with higher impulsivity. There was an interaction effect between AUD-PRS and family conflict, such that family conflict exacerbated the association between AUD-PRS and positive urgency, only among Black/African American youth. This was the only significant interaction effect detected from a total of 45 tests (five impulsivity dimensions, three subsamples, and three family factors), and thus may be a false positive and needs to be replicated. These findings highlight the important role of parenting behaviors and family conflict in relation to impulsivity among children.
Genetic factors contribute to the intergenerational transmission of alcohol misuse, but not all individuals at high genetic risk develop problems. The present study examined adolescent relationships with parents, peers, and romantic partners as predictors of realized resistance, defined as high biological risk for disorder combined with a healthy outcome, to alcohol initiation, heavy episodic drinking, and alcohol use disorder (AUD). Data were from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (N = 1,858; 49.9% female; mean age at baseline = 13.91 years). Genetic risk, indexed using family history density and polygenic risk scores for alcohol problems and AUD, was used to define alcohol resistance. Adolescent predictors included parent-child relationship quality, parental monitoring, peer drinking, romantic partner drinking, and social competence. There was little support for the hypothesis that social relationship factors would promote alcohol resistance, with the exception that higher father-child relationship quality was associated with higher resistance to alcohol initiation (
$$\hat \beta $$
= −0.19, 95% CI = −0.35, −0.03). Unexpectedly, social competence was associated with lower resistance to heavy episodic drinking (
$$\hat \beta $$
= 0.10, 95% CI = 0.01, 0.20). This pattern of largely null effects underscores how little is known about resistance processes among those at high genetic risk for AUD.
Studies suggest that alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorders have distinct genetic backgrounds.
We examined whether polygenic risk scores (PRS) for consumption and problem subscales of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT-C, AUDIT-P) in the UK Biobank (UKB; N = 121 630) correlate with alcohol outcomes in four independent samples: an ascertained cohort, the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA; N = 6850), and population-based cohorts: Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC; N = 5911), Generation Scotland (GS; N = 17 461), and an independent subset of UKB (N = 245 947). Regression models and survival analyses tested whether the PRS were associated with the alcohol-related outcomes.
In COGA, AUDIT-P PRS was associated with alcohol dependence, AUD symptom count, maximum drinks (R2 = 0.47–0.68%, p = 2.0 × 10−8–1.0 × 10−10), and increased likelihood of onset of alcohol dependence (hazard ratio = 1.15, p = 4.7 × 10−8); AUDIT-C PRS was not an independent predictor of any phenotype. In ALSPAC, the AUDIT-C PRS was associated with alcohol dependence (R2 = 0.96%, p = 4.8 × 10−6). In GS, AUDIT-C PRS was a better predictor of weekly alcohol use (R2 = 0.27%, p = 5.5 × 10−11), while AUDIT-P PRS was more associated with problem drinking (R2 = 0.40%, p = 9.0 × 10−7). Lastly, AUDIT-P PRS was associated with ICD-based alcohol-related disorders in the UKB subset (R2 = 0.18%, p < 2.0 × 10−16).
AUDIT-P PRS was associated with a range of alcohol-related phenotypes across population-based and ascertained cohorts, while AUDIT-C PRS showed less utility in the ascertained cohort. We show that AUDIT-P is genetically correlated with both use and misuse and demonstrate the influence of ascertainment schemes on PRS analyses.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that genetic and environmental factors interact to influence alcohol problems. Yet prior research has primarily focused on samples of European descent and little is known about gene–environment interactions in relation to alcohol problems in non-European populations. In this study, we examined whether and how genetic risk for alcohol problems and peer deviance and interpersonal traumatic events independently and interactively influence trajectories of alcohol use disorder symptoms in a sample of African American students across the college years (N = 1,119; Mage = 18.44 years). Data were drawn from the Spit for Science study where participants completed multiple online surveys throughout college and provided a saliva sample for genotyping. Multilevel growth curve analyses indicated that alcohol dependence genome-wide polygenic risk scores did not predict trajectory of alcohol use disorder symptoms, while family history of alcohol problems was associated with alcohol use disorder symptoms at the start of college but not with the rate of change in symptoms over time. Peer deviance and interpersonal traumatic events were associated with more alcohol use disorder symptoms across college years. Neither alcohol dependence genome-wide polygenic risk scores nor family history of alcohol problems moderated the effects of these environmental risk factors on alcohol use disorder symptoms. Our findings indicated that peer deviance and experience of interpersonal traumatic events are salient risk factors that elevate risk for alcohol problems among African American college students. Family history of alcohol problems could be a useful indicator of genetic risk for alcohol problems. Gene identification efforts with much larger samples of African descent are needed to better characterize genetic risk for alcohol use disorders, in order to better understand gene–environment interaction processes in this understudied population.
Genetic predispositions play an important role in the development of internalizing and externalizing behaviors. Understanding the mechanisms through which genetic risk unfolds to influence these developmental outcomes is critical for developing prevention and intervention efforts, capturing key elements of Irv's research agenda and scientific legacy. In this study, we examined the role of parenting and personality in mediating the effect of genetic risk on adolescents’ major depressive disorder and conduct disorder symptoms. Longitudinal data were drawn from a sample of 709 European American adolescents and their mothers from the Collaborative Studies on Genetics of Alcoholism. Results from multivariate path analysis indicated that adolescents’ depressive symptoms genome-wide polygenic scores (DS_GPS) predicted lower parental knowledge, which in turn was associated with more subsequent major depressive disorder and conduct disorder symptoms. Adolescents’ DS_GPS also had indirect effects on these outcomes via personality, with a mediating effect via agreeableness but not via other dimensions of personality. Findings revealed that the pattern of associations was similar across adolescent gender. Our findings emphasize the important role of evocative gene–environment correlation processes and intermediate phenotypes in the pathways of risk from genetic predispositions to complex adolescent outcomes.
Using a large and nationally representative sample, we examined how adolescents’ 5-HTTLPR genotype and perceived parenting quality independently and interactively associated with trajectories of alcohol use from early adolescence to young adulthood and whether/how gender may moderate these associations. The sample for this study included 13,749 adolescents (53.3% female; 56.3% non-Hispanic White, 21.5% Black, 16.0% Hispanic, and 6.1% Asian) followed prospectively from adolescence to young adulthood. Using growth mixture modeling, we identified four distinct trajectories of alcohol use (i.e., persistent heavy alcohol use, developmentally limited alcohol use, late-onset heavy alcohol use, and non/light alcohol use). Results indicated that the short allele of 5-HTTLPR was associated with higher risk of membership in the persistent and the late-onset heavy alcohol use trajectories. Parenting quality was associated with lower likelihoods of following the persistent heavy and the developmentally limited alcohol use trajectories but was not associated with risk of membership for the late-onset heavy drinking trajectory. 5-HTTLPR interacted with parenting quality to predict membership in the persistent heavy alcohol use trajectory for males but not for females. Findings highlighted the importance of considering the heterogeneity in trajectories of alcohol use across development and gender in the study of Gene Environment interactions in alcohol use.
The extent to which indices of maternal physiological arousal (skin conductance augmentation) and regulation (vagal withdrawal) while parenting predict infant attachment disorganization and behavior problems directly or indirectly via maternal sensitivity was examined in a sample of 259 mothers and their infants. Two covariates, maternal self-reported emotional risk and Adult Attachment Interview attachment coherence were assessed prenatally. Mothers' physiological arousal and regulation were measured during parenting tasks when infants were 6 months old. Maternal sensitivity was observed during distress-eliciting tasks when infants were 6 and 14 months old, and an average sensitivity score was calculated. Attachment disorganization was observed during the Strange Situation when infants were 14 months old, and mothers reported on infants' behavior problems when infants were 27 months old. Over and above covariates, mothers' arousal and regulation while parenting interacted to predict infant attachment disorganization and behavior problems such that maternal arousal was associated with higher attachment disorganization and behavior problems when maternal regulation was low but not when maternal regulation was high. This effect was direct and not explained by maternal sensitivity. The results suggest that maternal physiological dysregulation while parenting places infants at risk for psychopathology.
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