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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 purpose of this study was to examine possible pathways by which genetic risk associated with externalizing is transmitted in families. We used molecular data to disentangle the genetic and environmental pathways contributing to adolescent externalizing behavior in a sample of 1,111 adolescents (50% female; 719 European and 392 African ancestry) and their parents from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism. We found evidence for genetic nurture such that parental externalizing polygenic scores were associated with adolescent externalizing behavior, over and above the effect of adolescents’ own externalizing polygenic scores. Mediation analysis indicated that parental externalizing psychopathology partly explained the effect of parental genotype on children’s externalizing behavior. We also found evidence for evocative gene-environment correlation, whereby adolescent externalizing polygenic scores were associated with lower parent–child communication, less parent–child closeness, and lower parental knowledge, controlling for parental genotype. These effects were observed among participants of European ancestry but not African ancestry, likely due to the limited predictive power of polygenic scores across ancestral background. These results demonstrate that in addition to genetic transmission, genes influence offspring behavior through the influence of parental genotypes on their children’s environmental experiences, and the role of children’s genotypes in shaping parent–child relationships.
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.
Alcohol and other substance use problems are common, and the efficacy of current prevention and intervention programs is limited. Genetics may contribute to differential effectiveness of psychosocial prevention and intervention programs. This paper reviews gene-by-intervention (G×I) studies of alcohol and other substance use, and implications for integrating genetics into prevention science. Systematic review yielded 17 studies for inclusion. Most studies focused on youth substance prevention, alcohol was the most common outcome, and measures of genotype were heterogeneous. All studies reported at least one significant G×I interaction. We discuss these findings in the context of the history and current state of genetics, and provide recommendations for future G×I research. These include the integration of genome-wide polygenic scores into prevention studies, broad outcome measurement, recruitment of underrepresented populations, testing mediators of G×I effects, and addressing ethical implications. Integrating genetic research into prevention science, and training researchers to work fluidly across these fields, will enhance our ability to determine the best intervention for each individual across development. With growing public interest in obtaining personalized genetic information, we anticipate that the integration of genetics and prevention science will become increasingly important as we move into the era of precision medicine.
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.
Success in the domain of work is a salient developmental task of adulthood and a key indicator of adaptive function in the evaluation of health and psychopathology. Yet few studies have examined pathways to work competence, especially with strategies testing for cumulative cascade effects over time. Cascade models spanning 20 years were tested via structural equation modeling, linking work competence in early adulthood to antecedent competence in work and other domains of competence in childhood and emerging adulthood. Data were drawn from the Project Competence longitudinal study of 205 school children followed for 20 years. Relative fit of alternative models was evaluated by the Bayesian information criterion. As hypothesized, the effectiveness of adaptive behavior in earlier age-salient developmental task domains forecasted later work competence, which also showed strong concurrent links to competence in other domains. Results suggest there are numerous pathways by which success or failure in major developmental task domains in childhood and adolescence may influence adaptation in other domains and eventually work competence, both concurrently and cumulatively over time. Cascade effects highlight the potential significance for later work competence of childhood conduct (antisocial vs. rule-abiding behavior) and social competence with peers, in addition to the ongoing role that academic attainment may have for work success. Work competence also showed considerable stability over a 10-year period during early adulthood. Implications and applications for future research and intervention are discussed.
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