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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gene–environment interaction in problematic substance use: interaction between DRD4 and insecure attachments

To investigate the combined effect of an exon III variable number tandem repeat in the dopamine receptor gene (DRD4) and insecure attachment style on risk for tobacco, cannabis and alcohol use problems in young adulthood

It was hypothesized that (1) individuals with 5, 6, 7 or 8 repeats (labelled 7R+) would be at increased risk for problematic drug use, and (2) risk for drug use would be further increased in individuals with 7R+ repeats who also have a history of insecure parent–child attachment relations.

Data were drawn from the Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study, an eight-wave longitudinal study of adolescent and young adult development. DRD4 genotypes were available for 839 participants. Risk attributable to the combined effects of 7R+ genotype and insecure attachments was evaluated within a sufficient causes framework under the assumptions of additive interaction using a two-by-four table format with a common reference group. 7R+ alleles were associated with higher tobacco, cannabis and alcohol use (binging).

Insecure attachments were associated with higher tobacco and cannabis use but lower alcohol use. For tobacco, there was evidence of interaction for anxious but not avoidant attachments. For cannabis, there was evidence of interaction for both anxious and avoidant attachments, although the interaction for anxious attachments was more substantial.

There is no evidence of interaction for binge drinking.

Results are consistent with a generic reward deficit hypothesis of drug addiction for which the 7R+ disposition may play a role. Interaction between 7R+ alleles and attachment insecurity may intensify risk for problematic tobacco and cannabis use.

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