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Latent trajectories of alcohol use from early adolescence to young adulthood: Interaction effects between 5-HTTLPR and parenting quality and gender differences

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 June 2018

Jinni Su*
Virginia Commonwealth University
Andrew J. Supple
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Esther M. Leerkes
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Sally I-Chun Kuo
Virginia Commonwealth University
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Jinni Su, Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, PO Box 842509, Richmond, VA 23284; E-mail:


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.

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This study uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Add Health is funded by Grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website ( No direct support was received from Grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.


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