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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.
Researchers have identified genetic and neural risk factors for externalizing behaviors. However, it has not yet been determined if genetic liability is conferred in part through associations with more proximal neurophysiological risk markers.
Participants from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism, a large, family-based study of alcohol use disorders were genotyped and polygenic scores for externalizing (EXT PGS) were calculated. Associations with target P3 amplitude from a visual oddball task (P3) and broad endorsement of externalizing behaviors (indexed via self-report of alcohol and cannabis use, and antisocial behavior) were assessed in participants of European (EA; N = 2851) and African ancestry (AA; N = 1402). Analyses were also stratified by age (adolescents, age 12–17 and young adults, age 18–32).
The EXT PGS was significantly associated with higher levels of externalizing behaviors among EA adolescents and young adults as well as AA young adults. P3 was inversely associated with externalizing behaviors among EA young adults. EXT PGS was not significantly associated with P3 amplitude and therefore, there was no evidence that P3 amplitude indirectly accounted for the association between EXT PGS and externalizing behaviors.
Both the EXT PGS and P3 amplitude were significantly associated with externalizing behaviors among EA young adults. However, these associations with externalizing behaviors appear to be independent of each other, suggesting that they may index different facets of externalizing.
Many studies demonstrate that marriage protects against risky alcohol use and moderates genetic influences on alcohol outcomes; however, previous work has not considered these effects from a developmental perspective or in high-risk individuals. These represent important gaps, as it cannot be assumed that marriage has uniform effects across development or in high-risk samples. We took a longitudinal developmental approach to examine whether marital status was associated with heavy episodic drinking (HED), and whether marital status moderated polygenic influences on HED. Our sample included 937 individuals (53.25% female) from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism who reported their HED and marital status biennially between the ages of 21 and 25. Polygenic risk scores (PRS) were derived from a genome-wide association study of alcohol consumption. Marital status was not associated with HED; however, we observed pathogenic gene-by-environment effects that changed across young adulthood. Among those who married young (age 21), individuals with higher PRS reported more HED; however, these effects decayed over time. The same pattern was found in supplementary analyses using parental history of alcohol use disorder as the index of genetic liability. Our findings indicate that early marriage may exacerbate risk for those with higher polygenic load.
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.
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.
Context: The detection and replication of genes involved in psychiatric outcome has been notoriously difficult. Phenotypic measurement has been offered as one explanation, although most of this discussion has focused on problems with binary diagnoses. Objective: This article focuses on two additional components of phenotypic measurement that deserve further consideration in evaluating genetic associations: (1) the measure used to reflect the outcome of interest, and (2) the developmental stage of the study population. We focus our discussion of these issues around the construct of impulsivity and externalizing disorders, and the association of these measures with a specific gene, GABRA2. Design, Setting, and Participants: Data were analyzed from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism Phase IV assessment of adolescents and young adults (ages 12–26; N = 2,128). Main Outcome Measures: Alcohol dependence, illicit drug dependence, childhood conduct disorder, and adult antisocial personality disorder symptoms were measured by psychiatric interview; Achenbach youth/adult self-report externalizing scale; Zuckerman Sensation-Seeking scale; Barratt Impulsivity scale; NEO extraversion and consciousness. Results: GABRA2 was associated with subclinical levels of externalizing behavior as measured by the Achenbach in both the adolescent and young adult samples. Contrary to previous associations in adult samples, it was not associated with clinical-level DSM symptom counts of any externalizing disorders in these younger samples. There was also association with sensation-seeking and extraversion, but only in the adolescent sample. There was no association with the Barratt impulsivity scale or conscientiousness. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the pathway by which GABRA2 initially confers risk for eventual alcohol problems begins with a predisposition to sensation-seeking early in adolescence. The findings support the heterogeneous nature of impulsivity and demonstrate that both the measure used to assess a construct of interest and the age of the participants can have profound implications for the detection of genetic associations.
Alcoholism is associated with a high family incidence of both alcoholism and affective disorder (1). First degree male relatives of alcoholic probands have a 50 per cent lifetime expectancy for alcoholism, while first degree female relatives have a 50 per cent lifetime expectancy for affective disorder (1). Children of alcoholic parents raised with that parent show no higher, and perhaps less, alcoholism than children of alcoholic parents raised separately (2). This paper looks at the influence of parental alcoholism or affective disorder on the characteristics of alcoholism in probands, their progeny and siblings.
Many years ago Eugen Bleuler postulated a correlation between alcoholic hallucinosis and schizophrenia. In his textbook, he stated his belief that ‘alcholic hallucinosis could … be a mere syndrome of schizophrenia induced by alcohol (1)’.
Jellinek describes periodic or Epsilon alcoholism as the ‘least known species of alcoholism’ (1). Åmark (2), comparing them to the general population, found periodic drinkers to be older at time of study, to show increased heritability in offspring and to have a higher incidence of cycloid and cyclothymic personalities. His determination of cyclothymic personality traits reinforces the hypothesis of Dobnigg et al. (3) of a correlative between periodic drinking patterns and affective symptoms. This paper examines the usefulness of the diagnosis of ‘bender’ alcoholism.
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