Time-varying Effects of GABRG1 and Maladaptive Peer Behavior on Externalizing Behavior from Childhood to Adulthood: Testing Gene × Environment × Development Effects

  • Elisa M. TruccoEmail author
  • Songshan Yang
  • James J. Yang
  • Robert A. Zucker
  • Runze Li
  • Anne Buu
Empirical Research


Engagement in externalizing behavior is problematic. Deviant peer affiliation increases risk for externalizing behavior. Yet, peer effects vary across individuals and may differ across genes. This study determines gene × environment × development interactions as they apply to externalizing behavior from childhood to adulthood. A sample (n = 687; 68% male, 90% White) of youth from the Michigan Longitudinal Study was assessed from ages 10 to 25. Interactions between γ-amino butyric acid type A receptor γ1 subunit (GABRG1; rs7683876, rs13120165) and maladaptive peer behavior on externalizing behavior were examined using time-varying effect modeling. The findings indicate a sequential risk gradient in the influence of maladaptive peer behavior on externalizing behavior depending on the number of G alleles during childhood through adulthood. Individuals with the GG genotype are most vulnerable to maladaptive peer influences, which results in greater externalizing behavior during late childhood through early adulthood.


Genes TVEM Externalizing behavior Peers GABRG1 



We thank all the families that participated in the Michigan Longitudinal Study and their commitment to the project throughout the years.

Authors’ Contributions

EMT conceived of the study, participated in the interpretation of the data, and drafted the manuscript; SY performed the statistical analysis and participated in the interpretation of the data; JJY conceived of the study design, participated in the statistical analysis and the interpretation of the data, and assisted in drafting the manuscript; RAZ participated in the study design and coordination of the study, and helped to draft the manuscript; RL assisted in the statistical analysis and participated in the interpretation of the data; AB assisted in the design of the study, participated in the statistical analysis and the interpretation of the data, and assisted in drafting the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (K08 AA023290; U54 MD012393; R01 AA007065; R01 DA035183; P50 DA039838; R01CA229542) and by the National Science Foundation (DMS1820702).

Data Sharing and Declaration

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not yet publicly available but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. In addition, these data are currently being prepared for archiving in the publicly available interuniversity consortium for political and social research archiving, and we anticipate the full upload will be available by the end of 2019 (

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures with human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional committee where the study was conducted and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

Informed Consent

Written informed consent and assent was obtained from the parents and adolescents, respectively.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology Department and the Center for Children and FamiliesFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Psychiatry DepartmentUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biostatistics and Data ScienceUniversity of Texas Health Scince CenterHoustonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Texas Health Science CenterHoustonUSA

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