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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.
Structural models of psychopathology consistently identify internalizing (INT) and externalizing (EXT) specific factors as well as a superordinate factor that captures their shared variance, the p factor. Questions remain, however, about the meaning of these data-driven dimensions and the interpretability and distinguishability of the larger nomological networks in which they are embedded.
The sample consisted of 10 645 youth aged 9–10 years participating in the multisite Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study. p, INT, and EXT were modeled using the parent-rated Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Patterns of associations were examined with variables drawn from diverse domains including demographics, psychopathology, temperament, family history of substance use and psychopathology, school and family environment, and cognitive ability, using instruments based on youth-, parent-, and teacher-report, and behavioral task performance.
p exhibited a broad pattern of statistically significant associations with risk variables across all domains assessed, including temperament, neurocognition, and social adversity. The specific factors exhibited more domain-specific patterns of associations, with INT exhibiting greater fear/distress and EXT exhibiting greater impulsivity.
In this largest study of hierarchical models of psychopathology to date, we found that p, INT, and EXT exhibit well-differentiated nomological networks that are interpretable in terms of neurocognition, impulsivity, fear/distress, and social adversity. These networks were, in contrast, obscured when relying on the a priori Internalizing and Externalizing dimensions of the CBCL scales. Our findings add to the evidence for the validity of p, INT, and EXT as theoretically and empirically meaningful broad psychopathology liabilities.
Prior research has shown that person-level characteristics (e.g., temperament, personality) correlate and interact with social-contextual factors (e.g., parent–child relationship quality, antisocial peer affiliation) to predict adolescent substance use, but less research has examined similar processes for adult substance use problems. We addressed this gap by testing for personality × romantic partner context interplay in relation to symptoms of alcohol use disorder (AUD) at ages 24 and 29. Participants were twins in the longitudinal Minnesota Twin Family Study (N = 2,769; 52% female). Results support the corresponsive principle of personality in that we found that key personality traits in late adolescence (low constraint, negative emotionality) predicted subsequent “selection” into key social contexts in early adulthood (poorer quality romantic relationships and greater romantic partner alcohol use), which subsequently reinforced those traits and associated outcomes (including correlated AUD symptoms) through late young adulthood. There were few meaningful gender differences in these associations. There was also no support for the personality × romantic partner context interaction as a significant predictor of AUD symptoms at ages 24 or 29. Taken together with prior studies, these results suggest that such interactions may be less relevant to the development of young adult AUD compared to adolescent substance use problems.
We read with interest the recent editorial, “The Hennepin Ketamine Study,” by Dr. Samuel Stratton commenting on the research ethics, methodology, and the current public controversy surrounding this study.1 As researchers and investigators of this study, we strongly agree that prospective clinical research in the prehospital environment is necessary to advance the science of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and emergency medicine. We also agree that accomplishing this is challenging as the prehospital environment often encounters patient populations who cannot provide meaningful informed consent due to their emergent conditions. To ensure that fellow emergency medicine researchers understand the facts of our work so they may plan future studies, and to address some of the questions and concerns in Dr. Stratton’s editorial, the lay press, and in social media,2 we would like to call attention to some inaccuracies in Dr. Stratton’s editorial, and to the lay media stories on which it appears to be based.
Ho JD, Cole JB, Klein LR, Olives TD, Driver BE, Moore JC, Nystrom PC, Arens AM, Simpson NS, Hick JL, Chavez RA, Lynch WL, Miner JR. The Hennepin Ketamine Study investigators’ reply. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2019;34(2):111–113
In the United States, cannabis accessibility has continued to rise as the perception of its harmfulness has decreased. Only about 30% of regular cannabis users develop cannabis use disorder (CUD), but it is unclear if individuals who use cannabis regularly without ever developing CUD experience notable psychosocial impairment across the lifespan. Therefore, psychosocial functioning was compared across regular cannabis users with or without CUD and a non-user control group during adolescence (age 17; early risk) and young adulthood (ages 18–25; peak CUD prevalence).
Weekly cannabis users with CUD (n = 311), weekly users without CUD (n = 111), and non-users (n = 996) were identified in the Minnesota Twin Family Study. Groups were compared on alcohol and illicit drug use, psychiatric problems, personality, and social functioning at age 17 and from ages 18 to 25. Self-reported cannabis use and problem use were independently verified using co-twin informant report.
In both adolescence and young adulthood, non-CUD users reported significantly higher levels of substance use problems and externalizing behaviors than non-users, but lower levels than CUD users. High agreement between self- and co-twin informant reports confirmed the validity of self-reported cannabis use problems.
Even in the absence of CUD, regular cannabis use was associated with psychosocial impairment in adolescence and young adulthood. However, regular users with CUD endorsed especially high psychiatric comorbidity and psychosocial impairment. The need for early prevention and intervention – regardless of CUD status – was highlighted by the presence of these patterns in adolescence.
Although borderline personality disorder (BPD) traits decline from adolescence to adulthood, comorbid psychopathology such as symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD), alcohol use disorder (AUD), and drug use disorders (DUDs) likely disrupt this normative decline. Using a longitudinal sample of female twins (N = 1,763), we examined if levels of BPD traits were correlated with changes in MDD, AUD, and DUD symptoms from ages 14 to 24. A parallel process biometric latent growth model examined the contributions of genetic and environmental factors to the relationships between developmental components of these phenotypes. Higher BPD trait levels predicted a greater rate of increase in AUD and DUD symptoms, and higher AUD and DUD symptoms predicted a slower rate of decline of BPD traits from ages 14 to 24. Common genetic influences accounted for the associations between BPD traits and each disorder, as well as the interrelationships of AUD and DUD symptoms. Both genetic and nonshared environmental influences accounted for the correlated levels between BPD traits and MDD symptoms, but solely environmental influences accounted for the correlated changes between the two over time. Results indicate that higher levels of BPD traits may contribute to an earlier onset and faster escalation of AUD and DUD symptoms, and substance use problems slow the normative decline in BPD traits. Overall, our data suggests that primarily genetic influences contribute to the comorbidity between BPD features and substance use disorder symptoms. We discuss our data in the context of two major theories of developmental psychopathology and comorbidity.
Gene × Environment interaction contributes to externalizing disorders in childhood and adolescence, but little is known about whether such effects are long lasting or present in adulthood. We examined gene–environment interplay in the concurrent and prospective associations between antisocial peer affiliation and externalizing disorders (antisocial behavior and substance use disorders) at ages 17, 20, 24, and 29. The sample included 1,382 same-sex twin pairs participating in the Minnesota Twin Family Study. We detected a Gene × Environment interaction at age 17, such that additive genetic influences on antisocial behavior and substance use disorders were greater in the context of greater antisocial peer affiliation. This Gene × Environment interaction was not present for antisocial behavior symptoms after age 17, but it was for substance use disorder symptoms through age 29 (though effect sizes were largest at age 17). The results suggest adolescence is a critical period for the development of externalizing disorders wherein exposure to greater environmental adversity is associated with a greater expression of genetic risk. This form of Gene × Environment interaction may persist through young adulthood for substance use disorders, but it appears to be limited to adolescence for antisocial behavior.
We utilized a longitudinal twin study (N = 2,510) to identify the child characteristics present prior to initiation of substance use that best predicted later substance use disorders. Two independent traits accounted for the majority of premorbid risk: socialization (conformity to rules and conventional values) and boldness (sociability and social assurance, stress resilience, and thrill seeking). Low socialization was associated with disruptive behavior disorders, parental externalizing disorders, and environmental adversity and exhibited moderate genetic (0.45) and shared environmental influences (0.30). Boldness was highly heritable (0.71) and associated with less internalizing distress and environmental adversity. In combination, these traits exhibited robust associations with adolescent and young adult substance use disorders (R = .48 and .50, respectively) and incremental prediction over disruptive behavior disorders, parental externalizing disorders, and environmental adversity. The results were replicated in an independent sample. Socialization and boldness offer a novel conceptualization of underlying risk for substance use disorders that has the potential to improve prediction and theory with implications for basic research, prevention, and intervention.
We used a longitudinal twin design to examine selection effects of personality traits at age 11 on high-risk environmental contexts at age 14 and the extent to which these contexts mediated risk for substance abuse at age 17. Socialization at age 11 (willingness to follow rules and endorse conventional values) predicted exposure to contextual risk at age 14. Contextual risk partially mediated the effect of socialization on substance abuse, though socialization also had a direct effect. In contrast, boldness at age 11 (social engagement and assurance, thrill seeking, and stress resilience) also predicted substance abuse directly but was unrelated to contextual risk. There was substantial overlap in the genetic and shared environmental influences on socialization and contextual risk, and genetic risk in socialization contributed to substance abuse indirectly via increased exposure to contextual risk. This suggests that active gene–environment correlations related to individual differences in socialization contributed to an early, high-risk developmental trajectory for adolescent substance abuse. In contrast, boldness appeared to index an independent and direct genetic risk factor for adolescent substance abuse.
Although personality disorders are best understood in the context of lifetime development, there is a paucity of work examining their longitudinal trajectory. An understanding of the expected course and the genetic and environmental contributions to these disorders is necessary for a detailed understanding of risk processes that lead to their manifestation. The current study examined the longitudinal course and heritability of borderline personality disorder (BPD) over a period of 10 years starting in adolescence (age 14) and ending in adulthood (age 24). In doing so, we built on existing research by using a large community sample of adolescent female twins, a sensitive dimensional measure of BPD traits, an extended follow-up period, and a longitudinal twin design that allowed us to investigate the heritability of BPD traits at four discrete ages spanning midadolescence to early adulthood. Results indicated that mean-level BPD traits significantly decline from adolescence to adulthood, but rank order stability remained high. BPD traits were moderately heritable at all ages, with a slight trend for increased heritability from age 14 to age 24. A genetically informed latent growth curve model indicated that both the stability and change of BPD traits are highly influenced by genetic factors and modestly by nonshared environmental factors. Our results indicate that as is the case for other personality dimensions, trait BPD declines as individuals mature from adolescence to adulthood, and that this process is influenced in part by the same genetic factors that influence BPD trait stability.
We hypothesized that gender differences in average levels on the internalizing and externalizing factors that account for co-morbidity among common psychopathological syndromes in both men and women account for gender differences in the prevalence of specific syndromes.
The latent structure of 11 syndromes was examined in a middle-aged (mean age=52.66 years, s.d.=5.82) sample of 2992 (37% men) members of the community-based Minnesota Twin Registry (MTR) assessed using 10 scales of the Psychiatric Diagnostic Screening Questionnaire (PDSQ) and an adult antisocial behavior scale. Confirmatory factorial invariance models were applied to a best-fitting, internalizing–externalizing model.
A ‘strong gender invariance model’ fit best, indicating that gender differences in the means of individual syndromes were well accounted for by gender differences in mean levels of internalizing and externalizing. Women exhibited higher mean levels of internalizing (d=0.23) and lower mean levels of externalizing (d=−0.52) than men.
These findings suggest that risk factors for common mental disorders exhibiting gender differences may influence prevalence at the latent factor level. Future research may benefit from focusing on both the latent factor and individual syndrome levels in explaining gender differences in psychopathology.
Background. Little research has examined genetic and environmental contributions to psychopathic personality traits. Additionally, no studies have examined etiological connections between psychopathic traits and the broad psychopathological domains of internalizing (mood and anxiety) and externalizing (antisocial behavior, substance abuse). The current study was designed to fill these gaps in the literature.
Method. Participants were 626 pairs of 17-year-old male and female twins from the community. Psychopathic traits were indexed using scores on the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ). Symptoms of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology were obtained via structured clinical interviews. Structural equation modeling was used to estimate genetic and environmental influences on psychopathic personality traits as well as the degree of genetic overlap between these traits and composites of internalizing and externalizing.
Results. Twin analyses revealed significant genetic influence on distinct psychopathic traits (Fearless Dominance and Impulsive Antisociality). Moreover, Fearless Dominance was associated with reduced genetic risk for internalizing psychopathology, and Impulsive Antisociality was associated with increased genetic risk for externalizing psychopathology.
Conclusions. These results indicate that different psychopathic traits as measured by the MPQ show distinct genetically based relations with broad dimensions of DSM psychopathology.
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