Behavior Genetics

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 97–107 | Cite as

Three Mutually Informative Ways to Understand the Genetic Relationships Among Behavioral Disinhibition, Alcohol Use, Drug Use, Nicotine Use/Dependence, and Their Co-occurrence: Twin Biometry, GCTA, and Genome-Wide Scoring

  • Scott I. Vrieze
  • Matt McGue
  • Michael B. Miller
  • Brian M. Hicks
  • William G. Iacono
Original Research


Behavioral disinhibition is a trait hypothesized to represent a general vulnerability to the development of substance use disorders. We used a large community-representative sample (N = 7,188) to investigate the genetic and environmental relationships among measures of behavioral disinhibition, Nicotine Use/Dependence, Alcohol Consumption, Alcohol Dependence, and Drug Use. First, using a subsample of twins (N = 2,877), we used standard twin models to estimate the additive genetic, shared environmental, and non-shared environmental contributions to these five traits. Heritabilities ranged from .42 to .58 and shared environmental effects ranged from .12 to .24. Phenotypic correlations among the five traits were largely attributable to shared genetic effects. Second, we used Genome-wide Complex Trait Analysis (GCTA) to estimate as a random effect the aggregate genetic effect attributable to 515,384 common SNPs. The aggregated SNPs explained 10–30 % of the variance in the traits. Third, a genome-wide scoring approach summed the actual SNPs, creating a SNP-based genetic risk score for each individual. After tenfold internal cross-validation, the SNP sumscore correlated with the traits at .03 to .07 (p < .05), indicating small but detectable effects. SNP sumscores generated on one trait correlated at approximately the same magnitude with other traits, indicating detectable pleiotropic effects among these traits. Behavioral disinhibition thus shares genetic etiology with measures of substance use, and this relationship is detectable at the level of measured genomic variation.


Behavioral disinhibition Alcohol Drug Tobacco GWAS Twins Polygenetic 



Support was provided by grants DA05147, AA09367, AA11886, DA13240, DA024417, MH66140, and MH017069 (SIV). We also thank Scott Sponheim for valuable laboratory support.

Conflict of interest

No Authors have any conflict of interest in the present work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott I. Vrieze
    • 1
  • Matt McGue
    • 2
  • Michael B. Miller
    • 2
  • Brian M. Hicks
    • 3
  • William G. Iacono
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Statistical Genetics, Department of Biostatistics, School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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