Parsing Genetically Influenced Risk Pathways: Genetic Loci Impact Problematic Alcohol Use Via Externalizing and Specific Risk

  In this analysis, we parsed the genetic variance of problematic alcohol use (ALCP) into that which is shared with other externalizing traits and that which is not. The genetic correlations for the ALCP-specific variance differ for correlations with ALCP that includes variance which overlaps with externalizing. The ALCP-specific variance is primarily associated with alcohol […]

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Alcohol Reverses the Effects of KCNJ6 (GIRK2) Noncoding Variants on Excitability of Human Glutamatergic Neurons

People diagnosed with alcohol use disorder have been studied to identify genes linked with their diagnosis as well as other measurements such as EEG/behavioral tests.  Previous work has linked these EEG measurements with variations in and near KCNJ6, a gene encoding a potassium channel protein.  To study this, we prepared induced pluripotent stem cells using […]

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How Do Our Genes Influence Risk for Alcohol Problems?

Some people are more at risk for developing alcohol problems than others and part of the reason lies in our genes. Researchers are working on finding the specific genes associated with alcohol problems, and then mapping the complex pathways by which these genes influence alcohol use outcomes and interact with the environment. Check out Translational […]

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The Research is In: It’s Nature AND Nurture

Science tells us that both our genes AND our environments shape the likelihood that we will develop problems with alcohol use. Because the COGA study has a wealth of data on both genetics and environments, our investigators are uniquely positioned to explore both simultaneously. See the summaries of a few recent publications to better understand […]

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The Importance of Genes When Determining Risk

  Alcohol use disorder is genetically influenced, but there’s no one gene that influences risk. We can now measure one’s genetic vulnerability to some common disorders using polygenic risk scores (PRS), which combine the effects of many genes into a single risk score. At the moment, PRS summarize only a small portion of an individual’s […]

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Exploring Externalizing Behavior in COGA

man drinking alcohol bottle next to DNA strand

“Externalizing” refers to a spectrum of behaviors and disorders related to impulse control. It includes substance use disorders, behavioral outcomes like risky sex, and childhood outcomes like ADHD or behavior problems. One of the ways genes influence risk for alcohol use disorders is through externalizing pathways. COGA investigators have been at the front line of […]

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Alcohol sensitivity as a risk factor for heavy drinking and alcohol problems

strands of DNA

General background about how genes contribute to alcohol use disorder risks: The pattern of causes of alcohol use disorders are typical of most diseases such as heart attacks and diabetes in that genes contribute to the risk in the context of the environment and a person’s opinions and attitudes (e.g., Schuckit et al., 2011, 2012b). […]

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Early marriage may lead to unsafe drinking behavior by those with higher genetic risk of alcohol use

Two wedding cake toppers of a young white man and woman stand in front of wine and glasses

A new study led by Rebecca Smith, and Dr. Seung Bin Cho made use of a sample of 937 individuals from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA). Their manuscript will be published in a forthcoming issue of Development and Psychopathology  and explores the association between marital status and heavy episodic drinking as […]

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