Exploring how Family and Neighborhood Stressors Influence Genetic Risk for Adolescent Conduct Problems and Alcohol Use

  • Cristina B. BaresEmail author
  • Karen G. Chartier
  • Katherine J. Karriker-Jaffe
  • Fazil Aliev
  • Brian Mustanski
  • Danielle Dick
Empirical Research


Previous research suggests that genetic risk factors may predispose to conduct problems and alcohol use in adolescence. Whether genetic risk factors interact with social contexts has not been well characterized among African American adolescents. Data came from a subsample of the Genes, Environment, and Neighborhood Initiative study comprising 501 African American adolescents, including 151 lifetime drinkers (56% female, mean age = 16.3, SD = 1.4). Genetic risk was assessed with polygenic risk scores for alcohol dependence. Analyses explored interactions between genetic risk and self-reported alcohol use, conduct problems, life stressors, and other covariates. The effects of two gene–environment interactions (G × E) were tested in the sample of alcohol exposed adolescents; one on conduct problems and the other on alcohol use. There were significant associations between polygenic risk for alcohol dependence and conduct problems. A significant G × E interaction showed the impact of genetic risk on conduct problems was stronger under conditions of high exposure to family and neighborhood stressors. Among this sample of African American adolescents, genetic risk for alcohol dependence was not directly associated with alcohol use but was related to more conduct problems. Further, the effect of genetic risk interacted with stressors from the family and neighborhood, so that the effect of genetic risk on conduct problems was stronger for individuals who reported greater stressors.


Conduct problems Alcohol use Genetic risk Exposure to stressors Adolescents 


Authors’ Ccontributions

All individuals who have made a significant contribution to the work are listed as co-authors; B.M. and D.D. participated in the coordination of the data collection; F.A. conducted the creation of the polygenic risk scores; C.B.B., K.G.C. and K.J.K.-J. participated in the statistical analyses, interpretation of the data analysis and wrote the drafts of the manuscript. All authors have approved the final version of this manuscript.


The research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers K01DA036681 (C.B.B.), K01AA021145 (K.G.C.), R01DA025039 (B.M.), K02AA018755 (D.D.), and R01AA023534 (Kendler with subcontract to K.J.K.-J.). The content is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. NIDA and NIAAA had no role in the study design; collection, analysis or interpretation of the data; writing the manuscript; or the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Data Sharing and Declaration

The dataset analyzed during the current study are not publicly available but are available on reasonable request by contacting D.D. and B.M.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committees and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cristina B. Bares
    • 1
    Email author
  • Karen G. Chartier
    • 2
  • Katherine J. Karriker-Jaffe
    • 3
  • Fazil Aliev
    • 4
    • 5
  • Brian Mustanski
    • 6
  • Danielle Dick
    • 7
  1. 1.School of Social WorkUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.School of Social Work and Department of PsychiatryVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  3. 3.Alcohol Research GroupPublic Health InstituteEmeryvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  5. 5.Karabuk UniversityKarabukTurkey
  6. 6.Department of Medical Social SciencesNorthwestern UniversityChicagoUSA
  7. 7.Department of PsychologyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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