Author(s): Laucht M, Treutlein J, Schmid B, Blomeyer D, Becker K,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Evidence from animal studies supports a role for serotonin transporter gene promoter polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) gene-environment interaction (G x E) in the development of excessive alcohol intake. Few studies in humans have been conducted on this topic, yielding inconsistent results. The present study aims to further explore G x E between 5-HTTLPR and exposure to psychosocial adversity on alcohol consumption in a high-risk community sample of young adults. METHODS: Data were collected as part of the Mannheim Study of Children at Risk, an ongoing epidemiological cohort study following the outcome of early risk factors from birth into young adulthood. At age 19 years, 309 participants (142 male participants, 167 female participants) were genotyped for the biallelic and triallelic 5-HTTLPR and were administered a 45-day alcohol timeline follow-back interview, providing measures of the total number of drinks and the number of binge drinking days. Psychosocial adversity was assessed at birth (family adversity) and at age 19 (negative life events). RESULTS: In contrast to various previous reports, a significant G x E emerged, indicating that, when exposed to high psychosocial adversity, individuals with the LL genotype of 5-HTTLPR exhibited more hazardous drinking than those carrying the S allele or those without exposure to adversity. This effect, which was confined to male participants, held both for different classifications of 5-HTTLPR and different types of adversity. CONCLUSIONS: One explanation for the discrepant results might be heterogeneity in alcohol phenotypes. While the L allele relates more strongly to early-onset alcoholism, the S allele may be linked more closely to alcohol use associated with anxiety and depression.
This article was published in Biol Psychiatry
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy