Timing of first alcohol use and alcohol dependence: evidence of common genetic influences

Carolyn E. Sartor, Michael T. Lynskey, Kathleen K. Bucholz, Pamela A. F. Madden, Nicholas G. Martin and Andrew C. Heath (2009) Timing of first alcohol use and alcohol dependence: evidence of common genetic influences. Addiction, 104 9: 1512-1518. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02648.x


Author Carolyn E. Sartor
Michael T. Lynskey
Kathleen K. Bucholz
Pamela A. F. Madden
Nicholas G. Martin
Andrew C. Heath
Title Timing of first alcohol use and alcohol dependence: evidence of common genetic influences
Formatted title
Timing of first alcohol use and alcohol dependence: evidence of common genetic influences
Journal name Addiction   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0965-2140
Publication date 2009-08-03
Year available 2009
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02648.x
Volume 104
Issue 9
Start page 1512
End page 1518
Total pages 7
Editor Robert West
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Language eng
Subject C1
Abstract Aims To estimate the magnitude of genetic and environmental influences on timing of first alcohol use and alcohol dependence (AD) and to quantify the overlap in these influences across the two alcohol-related outcomes. Participants The sample consisted of 5382 twins (2691 complete pairs), aged 24–36 years, from the Australian Twin Registry. Measurements History of alcohol use and DSM-IV alcohol dependence were assessed by structured telephone interview. Findings In both sexes, the relationship between age at first alcohol use and risk for AD followed a linear trend, such that the highest rates of AD were observed in individuals who began drinking at an earlier than average age (14 years or younger). Heritability estimates for timing of first alcohol use and AD were 36% and 53%, respectively. Shared environmental factors accounted for 15% of variance in initiation. There was no evidence of shared environmental influences on AD. The genetic correlation between timing of first alcohol use and AD was 0.59. Conclusions Findings highlight the substantial role of genetics in the development of AD and the early manifestation of that genetic risk in the timing of alcohol use initiation which, unlike AD, is also influenced to a modest degree by shared environmental factors. The considerable overlap in heritable influences—and the virtual absence of overlap in individual-specific environmental influences—on initiation of alcohol use and AD indicates that the association between age at first drink and AD is attributable in large part to common genetic sources of variance.
Formatted abstract
Aims To estimate the magnitude of genetic and environmental influences on timing of first alcohol use and alcohol dependence (AD) and to quantify the overlap in these influences across the two alcohol-related outcomes.

Participants The sample consisted of 5382 twins (2691 complete pairs), aged 24–36 years, from the Australian Twin Registry.

Measurements History of alcohol use and DSM-IV alcohol dependence were assessed by structured telephone interview.

Findings In both sexes, the relationship between age at first alcohol use and risk for AD followed a linear trend, such that the highest rates of AD were observed in individuals who began drinking at an earlier than average age (14 years or younger). Heritability estimates for timing of first alcohol use and AD were 36% and 53%, respectively. Shared environmental factors accounted for 15% of variance in initiation. There was no evidence of shared environmental influences on AD. The genetic correlation between timing of first alcohol use and AD was 0.59.

Conclusions Findings highlight the substantial role of genetics in the development of AD and the early manifestation of that genetic risk in the timing of alcohol use initiation which, unlike AD, is also influenced to a modest degree by shared environmental factors. The considerable overlap in heritable influences—and the virtual absence of overlap in individual-specific environmental influences—on initiation of alcohol use and AD indicates that the association between age at first drink and AD is attributable in large part to common genetic sources of variance.

Keyword Alcohol dependence
twins
initiation of alcohol use
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2010 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Medicine Publications
 
Versions
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 39 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 42 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Sat, 27 Mar 2010, 04:47:26 EST by Amanda Jones on behalf of Medicine - Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital