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The present study examined putative environmental predictors of adolescent substance use, using a prospective adoption design to distinguish between environmental mediation (i.e., parenting influencing adolescent substance use), passive gene–environment correlation (i.e., parental genetic predisposition influencing the association between parenting characteristics and adolescent substance use), and evocative gene–environment correlation (i.e., children’s genetic predisposition influencing parenting). Longitudinal data from the Colorado Adoption Project (395 adoptees, 491 nonadoptees, 485 adoptive parents, and 490 biological parents) were examined. Children (48% girls) were assessed at ages 1 to 17 years. Over 90% of the sample were non-Hispanic White. Associations between parenting and adolescent substance use were compared between adoptive and nonadoptive families. Positive, negative, and inconsistent parenting measures in early childhood through adolescence were not consistently associated with adolescent substance use, with only 6% of correlations being statistically significant (r = −0.152 to .207). However, parent–child relationship quality assessed from childhood to adolescence and orientation to parents assessed during adolescence were significantly, negatively associated with adolescent substance use, with 71% of correlations being statistically significant (r = −0.88 to −0.11). There was little evidence of sex differences in the associations. Environmental mediation, rather than passive or evocative gene–environment correlation, explained most associations.
To determine associations of alcohol use with cognitive aging among middle-aged men.
1,608 male twins (mean 57 years at baseline) participated in up to three visits over 12 years, from 2003–2007 to 2016–2019. Participants were classified into six groups based on current and past self-reported alcohol use: lifetime abstainers, former drinkers, very light (1–4 drinks in past 14 days), light (5–14 drinks), moderate (15–28 drinks), and at-risk drinkers (>28 drinks in past 14 days). Linear mixed-effects regressions modeled cognitive trajectories by alcohol group, with time-based models evaluating rate of decline as a function of baseline alcohol use, and age-based models evaluating age-related differences in performance by current alcohol use. Analyses used standardized cognitive domain factor scores and adjusted for sociodemographic and health-related factors.
Performance decreased over time in all domains. Relative to very light drinkers, former drinkers showed worse verbal fluency performance, by –0.21 SD (95% CI –0.35, –0.07), and at-risk drinkers showed faster working memory decline, by 0.14 SD (95% CI 0.02, –0.20) per decade. There was no evidence of protective associations of light/moderate drinking on rate of decline. In age-based models, light drinkers displayed better memory performance at advanced ages than very light drinkers (+0.14 SD; 95% CI 0.02, 0.20 per 10-years older age); likely attributable to residual confounding or reverse association.
Alcohol consumption showed minimal associations with cognitive aging among middle-aged men. Stronger associations of alcohol with cognitive aging may become apparent at older ages, when cognitive abilities decline more rapidly.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is highly heritable, and AD polygenic risk scores (AD-PRSs) have been derived from genome-wide association studies. However, the nature of genetic influences very early in the disease process is still not well known. Here we tested the hypothesis that an AD-PRSs would be associated with changes in episodic memory and executive function across late midlife in men who were cognitively unimpaired at their baseline midlife assessment..
We examined 1168 men in the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (VETSA) who were cognitively normal (CN) at their first of up to three assessments across 12 years (mean ages 56, 62, and 68). Latent growth models of episodic memory and executive function were based on 6–7 tests/subtests. AD-PRSs were based on Kunkle et al. (Nature Genetics, 51, 414–430, 2019), p < 5×10−8 threshold.
AD-PRSs were correlated with linear slopes of change for both cognitive abilities. Men with higher AD-PRSs had steeper declines in both memory (r = −.19, 95% CI [−.35, −.03]) and executive functioning (r = −.27, 95% CI [−.49, −.05]). Associations appeared driven by a combination of APOE and non-APOE genetic influences.
Memory is most characteristically impaired in AD, but executive functions are one of the first cognitive abilities to decline in midlife in normal aging. This study is among the first to demonstrate that this early decline also relates to AD genetic influences, even in men CN at baseline.
Clarifying the relationship between depression symptoms and cardiometabolic and related health could clarify risk factors and treatment targets. The objective of this study was to assess whether depression symptoms in midlife are associated with the subsequent onset of cardiometabolic health problems.
The study sample comprised 787 male twin veterans with polygenic risk score data who participated in the Harvard Twin Study of Substance Abuse (‘baseline’) and the longitudinal Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (‘follow-up’). Depression symptoms were assessed at baseline [mean age 41.42 years (s.d. = 2.34)] using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule, Version III, Revised. The onset of eight cardiometabolic conditions (atrial fibrillation, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, myocardial infarction, sleep apnea, and stroke) was assessed via self-reported doctor diagnosis at follow-up [mean age 67.59 years (s.d. = 2.41)].
Total depression symptoms were longitudinally associated with incident diabetes (OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.07–1.57), erectile dysfunction (OR 1.32, 95% CI 1.10–1.59), hypercholesterolemia (OR 1.26, 95% CI 1.04–1.53), and sleep apnea (OR 1.40, 95% CI 1.13–1.74) over 27 years after controlling for age, alcohol consumption, smoking, body mass index, C-reactive protein, and polygenic risk for specific health conditions. In sensitivity analyses that excluded somatic depression symptoms, only the association with sleep apnea remained significant (OR 1.32, 95% CI 1.09–1.60).
A history of depression symptoms by early midlife is associated with an elevated risk for subsequent development of several self-reported health conditions. When isolated, non-somatic depression symptoms are associated with incident self-reported sleep apnea. Depression symptom history may be a predictor or marker of cardiometabolic risk over decades.
The Colorado Twin Registry (CTR) is a population-based registry formed from birth and school records including twins born between 1968 and the present. Two previous reports on the CTR [Rhea et al., (2006). Twin Research and Human Genetics, 9, 941–949; Rhea et al., (2013).Twin Research and Human Genetics, 16, 351–357] covered developments in the CTR through 2012. This report briefly summarizes previously presented material on ascertainment and recruitment and the relationships between samples and studies, discusses developments since 2012 for four previously described twin samples, describes two new samples and their complementary studies and expands on two subjects briefly mentioned in the last report: a history of genotyping efforts involving CTR samples, and a survey of collaborations and consortia in which CTR twins have been included. The CTR remains an active resource for both ongoing, longitudinal research and the recruitment of new twin samples for newly identified research opportunities.
The purpose of this update is to provide the most current information about both the Colorado Adoption Project (CAP) and the Longitudinal Twin Study (LTS) and to introduce the Colorado Adoption/Twin Study of Lifespan behavioral development and cognitive aging (CATSLife), a product of their merger and a unique study of lifespan behavioral development and cognitive aging. The primary objective of CATSLife is to assess the unique saliency of early childhood genetic and environmental factors to adult cognitive maintenance and change, as well as proximal influences and innovations that emerge across development. CATSLife is currently assessing up to 1600 individuals on the cusp of middle age, targeting those between 30 and 40 years of age. The ongoing CATSLife data collection is described as well as the longitudinal data available from the earlier CAP and LTS assessments. We illustrate CATSLife via current projects and publications, highlighting the measurement of genetic, biochemical, social, sociodemographic and environmental indices, including geospatial features, and their impact on cognitive maintenance in middle adulthood. CATSLife provides an unparalleled opportunity to assess prospectively the etiologies of cognitive change and test the saliency of early childhood versus proximal influences on the genesis of cognitive decline.
The Interplay of Genes and Environment across Multiple Studies (IGEMS) is a consortium of 18 twin studies from 5 different countries (Sweden, Denmark, Finland, United States, and Australia) established to explore the nature of gene–environment (GE) interplay in functioning across the adult lifespan. Fifteen of the studies are longitudinal, with follow-up as long as 59 years after baseline. The combined data from over 76,000 participants aged 14–103 at intake (including over 10,000 monozygotic and over 17,000 dizygotic twin pairs) support two primary research emphases: (1) investigation of models of GE interplay of early life adversity, and social factors at micro and macro environmental levels and with diverse outcomes, including mortality, physical functioning and psychological functioning; and (2) improved understanding of risk and protective factors for dementia by incorporating unmeasured and measured genetic factors with a wide range of exposures measured in young adulthood, midlife and later life.
Drawing on five waves of longitudinal data from 392 families (52% female; mean age of wave 1 [Mage_W1] = 12.89, standard deviation [SD] = .48; Mage_W5 = 21.95, SD = .77; 199 European American and 193 Mexican American families; 217 intact and 175 stepfather families), this study documented transactional relations of mothers’ and fathers’ depressive symptoms with youth's symptomatology from early adolescence to young adulthood. Trait and time-varying cross-lagged models revealed that both mothers’ and fathers’ between- and within-person differences in depressive symptoms were associated with youth's internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Whereas each parent's depressive symptoms uniquely contributed to youth's internalizing symptoms, however, only mothers’ depressive symptoms influenced youth's externalizing symptoms. Although reciprocal effects of youth's internalizing symptoms on parents’ depressive symptoms were not significant, youth's externalizing symptoms predicted changes in mothers’ depressive symptoms over time. Moderation analyses revealed distinct transactional patterns by family ethnicity and child gender, but not by family structure. This study revealed dynamic transactions among family members’ symptomatology that point to opportune times and targets for intervention efforts aimed at mitigating the negative impact of parents’ depressive symptoms on youth's adjustment.
The Interplay of Genes and Environment across Multiple Studies (IGEMS) group is a consortium of eight longitudinal twin studies established to explore the nature of social context effects and gene-environment interplay in late-life functioning. The resulting analysis of the combined data from over 17,500 participants aged 25–102 at baseline (including nearly 2,600 monogygotic and 4,300 dizygotic twin pairs and over 1,700 family members) aims to understand why early life adversity, and social factors such as isolation and loneliness, are associated with diverse outcomes including mortality, physical functioning (health, functional ability), and psychological functioning (well-being, cognition), particularly in later life.
We investigated the extent to which cognitive dysfunction is shaped by genetic or environmental influences, and whether these factors differ in women and men. All members of the Swedish Twin Registry aged 65 and older were screened by telephone using the TELE, a brief cognitive assessment instrument (Gatz et al., 2002), and the Blessed Dementia Rating Scale (Blessed et al., 1968) from relatives of those who scored poorly on the TELE. Data were available for 4308 pairs where both members responded and 5070 pairs where only one member was alive and participated. To analyze all available data, we used a raw data method extended to ordinal data. As the prevalence of cognitive dysfunction increases with age, we incorporated age-adjusted thresholds. The best fitting model from biometric analyses indicated 35% of the variation in liability to cognitive dysfunction could be explained by heritable influences and the remaining 65% by nonfamilial environmental influences. Differences by gender were not significant. As this is a normative population including cognitively intact individuals, preclinical dementia cases and demented individuals, the relative magnitude of genetic and environmental effects is of particular interest in light of high heritabilities found for dementias such as Alzheimer's disease. The findings emphasize the extent to which research is needed to uncover nonfamilial environmental influences on cognitive dysfunction in later life.
The possibility of genotype–environment interaction for memory performance and change was examined in 150 monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs from the Swedish Adoption Twin Study of Aging (SATSA). We used an MZ twin pair difference approach to examine the possibility that genotype was associated with intrapair variability and thus suggestive of genotype–nonshared environment interactions. Multiple ‘variability genes’ were found for longitudinal change in a semantic memory task including candidates coding for apolipoprotein E (APOE) and estrogen receptor alpha (ESR1) as well as serotonin candidates (HTR2A and 5HTT). One candidate also related to variability in change in episodic memory (5HTT). Of the significant associations observed, generally results indicated that MZ pairs who carry putative risk alleles were less variable than noncarriers, suggesting that noncarriers may be more sensitive to environmental contexts. We sought to ‘contextualize’ the possible nonshared environmental influences for found gene–environment (G × E) effects by considering intrapair differences in measured social and stress factors, including social support, life events and depressive symptoms. Results suggested that nonshared environmental influences associated with depressive symptoms may moderate the G × E relationship observed for ESR1 and APOE and longitudinal semantic memory change whereby noncarriers of putative risk alleles may be relatively more sensitive to depressionevoking environmental contexts than carriers of the risk allele. Thus, the contexts that facilitate or reduce depressive symptoms may affect semantic memory resiliency dependent on genotype. Further work ought to consider larger sample sizes as well as consider additional social and contextual factors.
Twins are sometimes used as proxy informants but little is known about reliability and validity of the information thus obtained. The present study asks: (1) to what extent do twin pairs agree with each other on comparative ratings of health, psychosocial traits, and environmental exposures?; and (2) how well do comparative ratings agree with usual self-reported information about the exposures? Using 55 monozygotic (MZ) and 71 dizygotic (DZ) same-sex pairs reared together, percentage agreement was calculated for 44 comparative ratings. Pairs agreed on average about half of the time. Agreement was higher for more discrete exposures, such as smoking, but lower for more subjective variables, such as the degree to which life is experienced as stressful. Signed rank tests were used to contrast comparative ratings to differences in self- reports. Differences between twin partners in their self-report indices, where available, were in the direction suggested by the comparative rating. Comparative ratings appear most accurate for smoking and alcohol use, and less consistent for mental health symptoms and self-rated health.
The genetic and environmental basis of a well-replicated association between antisocial behavior (ASB) and resting heart rate was investigated in a longitudinal twin study, based on two measurements between the ages of 9 and 14 years. ASB was defined as a broad continuum of externalizing behavior problems, assessed at each occasion through a composite measure based on parent ratings of trait aggression, delinquent behaviors, and psychopathic traits in their children. Parent ratings of ASB significantly decreased across age from childhood to early adolescence, although latent growth models indicated significant variation and twin similarity in the growth patterns, which were explained almost entirely by genetic influences. Resting heart rate at age 9–10 years old was inversely related to levels of ASB but not change patterns of ASB across age or occasions. Biometrical analyses indicated significant genetic influences on heart rate during childhood, as well as ASB throughout development from age 9 to 14. Both level and slope variation were significantly influenced by genetic factors. Of importance, the low resting heart rate and ASB association was significantly and entirely explained by their genetic covariation, although the heritable component of heart rate explained only a small portion (1–4%) of the substantial genetic variance in ASB. Although the effect size is small, children with low resting heart rate appear to be genetically predisposed toward externalizing behavior problems as early as age 9 years old.
This study examined the utility of the TELE, a telephone assessment for dementia, in a sample of 269 individuals that was not selected on the basis of previous dementia diagnosis. Thus, the conditions of the study reflect the actual situation in which a screening instrument might be employed. Scores on TELE were compared to dementia diagnoses. Using the best cutoff score, sensitivity was .86 and specificity was .90. Longitudinal follow-up established that false positives primarily included those who subsequently developed dementia. Telephone screening for dementia has both clinical and research applications. One recommendation based on our experience is that longitudinal studies should include a telephone interview component for anyone who drops out of the study, to enable characterizing the cognitive status of dropouts.
The Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale (CES-D) was administered in Swedish to two representative samples, one aged 84 to 90 (mean = 87), the second aged 29 to 95 (mean = 61). There were both linear and quadratic differences with age: the oldest individuals were highest on depressive symptoms, but younger adults were higher than middle-aged. Dimensions or subscales identified by previous studies were generally replicated, including a sadness and depressed mood factor, a psychomotor retardation and loss of energy factor, and a well-being factor (on which items are reverse-scored to indicate depression). The findings support cross-national use of the CES-D to assess self-reported symptoms of depression in adults and older adults.
Thirty-seven subjects, 15 with a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and 22 normal controls, participated in a study of the accuracy of telephone screening in identifying potential dementia cases. The telephone protocol and scoring algorithm resulted in 100% sensitivity and 91% specificity. The findings suggest that a brief telephone interview can serve as an efficient screening device to locate dementia cases in the context of a large-scale community-based investigation.
Previous studies have repeatedly shown verbal intelligence deficits in adolescent antisocial
individuals, but it is not known whether these deficits are in place prior to kindergarten or,
alternatively, whether they are acquired throughout childhood. This study assesses whether
cognitive deficits occur as early as age 3 years and whether they are specific to persistently
antisocial individuals. Verbal and spatial abilities were assessed at ages 3 and 11 years in 330 male
and female children, while antisocial behavior was assessed at ages 8 and 17 years. Persistently
antisocial individuals (N = 47) had spatial deficits in the absence of verbal deficits at
age 3 years compared to comparisons (N = 133), and also spatial and verbal deficits at
age 11 years. Age 3 spatial deficits were independent of social adversity, early hyperactivity, poor
test motivation, poor test comprehension, and social discomfort during testing, and they were
found in females as well as males. Findings suggest that early spatial deficits contribute to
persistent antisocial behavior whereas verbal deficits are developmentally acquired. An
early-starter model is proposed whereby early spatial impairments interfere with early bonding and
attachment, reflect disrupted right hemisphere affect regulation and expression, and predispose to
later persistent antisocial behavior.