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Psychiatr Genet. 2005 Jun;15(2):101-7.

Heritability of substance dependence in a native American population.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.



To estimate the heritability of substance dependence and associated symptoms in a sample of Southwest California (Mission) Indians.


Families from eight contiguous Indian reservations were recruited in order to ascertain information on substance dependence symptoms and diagnoses using a semi-structured diagnostic interview. Dependence diagnoses for alcohol, marijuana, stimulants and a measure of regular tobacco usage, any drug dependence or tobacco usage were obtained. Composite measures of alcohol dependence symptoms for withdrawal, drinking severity, antisocial problems and interpersonal problems were constructed from the nine groups of symptoms summarized in the diagnostic interview. Heritability estimates were calculated using variance component methods, as implemented in SOLAR.


In this population, marijuana dependence (0.38) and regular tobacco use (0.43), alcohol dependence (DSM-III-R 0.19; ICD-10, 0.29) and stimulant dependence (0.25) showed evidence for moderate genetic influences as determined by heritability estimates. Four phenotypes constructed using the composite symptoms of alcohol dependence revealed that withdrawal had the highest heritability estimate (0.71), followed by antisocial problems (0.36) and drinking severity (0.34). Symptom clusters reflecting interpersonal problems did not appear to be highly heritable (0.19).


Marijuana dependence, regular tobacco usage and composite phenotypes constructed from alcohol dependence symptoms for antisocial problems, drinking severity and withdrawal generally have patterns of familial aggregation, suggesting that they can be successfully used for linkage analysis in this Southwest California Indian sample.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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