Genomic Analysis Of 1.5 Million People Uncovers Genes Related To Addiction, Antisocial Behavior, And Disease

Externalizing behaviors encompass a range of traits tied to self-regulation, like substance use disorders and childhood behavior problems, significantly influencing an individual’s life path. Previous research hinted at a shared genetic inclination for these behaviors, yet a comprehensive study to identify the responsible genes on a large scale was absent.  


This study delves into the genetic underpinnings of externalizing behaviors, encompassing traits like substance use disorders and childhood behavior issues, which significantly shape individuals’ lives. By examining genomic data from around 1.5 million individuals, we uncovered 579 genetic locations associated with these behaviors, revealing a shared genetic inclination towards externalizing traits. Notably, our analysis went beyond mere identification, yielding a genetic risk score that predicted roughly 10% of the variation in externalizing behaviors across diverse populations. This score also showed connections with substance abuse, mental health conditions, criminal records, socioeconomic outcomes, and various physical illnesses. Our findings underscore the intricate genetic nature of these behaviors and their profound impact on multiple life facets, emphasizing their relevance as a neurodevelopmental trait with extensive social and health ramifications, paving the way for targeted interventions and personalized approaches. 


Karlsson Linnér, R., Mallard, T. T., Barr, P. B., Sanchez-Roige, S., Madole, J. W., Driver, M. N., Poore, H. E., de Vlaming, R., Grotzinger, A. D., Tielbeek, J. J., Johnson, E. C., Liu, M., Rosenthal, S. B., Ideker, T., Zhou, H., Kember, R. L., Pasman, J. A., Verweij, K. J. H., Liu, D. J., Vrieze, S., … Dick, D. M. (2021). Multivariate analysis of 1.5 million people identifies genetic associations with traits related to self-regulation and addiction. Nature neuroscience24(10), 1367–1376.