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Recent well-powered genome-wide association studies have enhanced prediction of substance use outcomes via polygenic scores (PGSs). Here, we test (1) whether these scores contribute to prediction over-and-above family history, (2) the extent to which PGS prediction reflects inherited genetic variation v. demography (population stratification and assortative mating) and indirect genetic effects of parents (genetic nurture), and (3) whether PGS prediction is mediated by behavioral disinhibition prior to substance use onset.
PGSs for alcohol, cannabis, and nicotine use/use disorder were calculated for Minnesota Twin Family Study participants (N = 2483, 1565 monozygotic/918 dizygotic). Twins' parents were assessed for histories of substance use disorder. Twins were assessed for behavioral disinhibition at age 11 and substance use from ages 14 to 24. PGS prediction of substance use was examined using linear mixed-effects, within-twin pair, and structural equation models.
Nearly all PGS measures were associated with multiple types of substance use independently of family history. However, most within-pair PGS prediction estimates were substantially smaller than the corresponding between-pair estimates, suggesting that prediction is driven in part by demography and indirect genetic effects of parents. Path analyses indicated the effects of both PGSs and family history on substance use were mediated via disinhibition in preadolescence.
PGSs capturing risk of substance use and use disorder can be combined with family history measures to augment prediction of substance use outcomes. Results highlight indirect sources of genetic associations and preadolescent elevations in behavioral disinhibition as two routes through which these scores may relate to substance use.
Childhood maltreatment is associated with increased risk for most forms of psychopathology. We examine emotion dysregulation as a transdiagnostic mechanism linking maltreatment with general psychopathology. A sample of 262 children and adolescents participated; 162 (61.8%) experienced abuse or exposure to domestic violence. We assessed four emotion regulation processes (cognitive reappraisal, attention bias to threat, expressive suppression, and rumination) and emotional reactivity. Psychopathology symptoms were assessed concurrently and at a 2-year longitudinal follow-up. A general psychopathology factor (p factor), representing co-occurrence of psychopathology symptoms across multiple internalizing and externalizing domains, was estimated using confirmatory factor analysis. Maltreatment was associated with heightened emotional reactivity and greater use of expressive suppression and rumination. The association of maltreatment with attention bias varied across development, with maltreated children exhibiting a bias toward threat and adolescents a bias away from threat. Greater emotional reactivity and engagement in rumination mediated the longitudinal association between maltreatment and increased general psychopathology over time. Emotion dysregulation following childhood maltreatment occurs at multiple stages of the emotion generation process, in some cases varies across development, and serves as a transdiagnostic mechanism linking child maltreatment with general psychopathology.
Cognitive impairment has been identified as an important aspect of major depressive disorder (MDD). We tested two theories regarding the association between MDD and cognitive functioning using data from longitudinal cohort studies. One theory, the cognitive reserve hypothesis, suggests that higher cognitive ability in childhood decreases risk of later MDD. The second, the scarring hypothesis, instead suggests that MDD leads to persistent cognitive deficits following disorder onset. We tested both theories in the Dunedin Study, a population-representative cohort followed from birth to midlife and assessed repeatedly for both cognitive functioning and psychopathology. We also used data from the Environmental Risk Longitudinal Twin Study to test whether childhood cognitive functioning predicts future MDD risk independent of family-wide and genetic risk using a discordant twin design. Contrary to both hypotheses, we found that childhood cognitive functioning did not predict future risk of MDD, nor did study members with a past history of MDD show evidence of greater cognitive decline unless MDD was accompanied by other comorbid psychiatric conditions. Our results thus suggest that low cognitive functioning is related to comorbidity, but is neither an antecedent nor an enduring consequence of MDD. Future research may benefit from considering cognitive deficits that occur during depressive episodes from a transdiagnostic perspective.