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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2011 Jan;35(1):91-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2010.01325.x. Epub 2010 Oct 6.

Evaluating a cognitive model of ALDH2 and drinking behavior.

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Mind Research Network, CSH, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87106, USA.



Despite evidence for genetic influences on alcohol use and alcohol-related cognitions, genetic factors and endophenotypes are rarely incorporated in cognitive models of drinking behavior. This study evaluated a model of ALDH2 and drinking behavior stipulating cognitive factors and alcohol sensitivity as accounting for genetic influences on drinking outcomes.


Participants were Asian-American young adults (n = 171) who completed measures of alcohol cognitions (drinking motives, drinking refusal self-efficacy, and alcohol expectancies), alcohol sensitivity, drinking behavior, and alcohol-related problems as part of a prospective study. Structural equation modeling (SEM) evaluated a model of drinking behavior that stipulated indirect effects of ALDH2 on drinking outcomes through cognitive variables and alcohol sensitivity.


The full model provided an adequate fit to the observed data, with the measurement model explaining 63% of the variance in baseline heavy drinking and 50% of the variance in alcohol-related problems at follow-up. Associations of ALDH2 with cognitive factors and alcohol sensitivity were significant, whereas the association of ALDH2 with drinking was not significant with these factors included in the model. Mediation tests indicated significant indirect effects of ALDH2 through drinking motives, drinking refusal self-efficacy, and alcohol sensitivity.


Results are consistent with the perspective that genetic influences on drinking behavior can be partly explained by learning mechanisms and implicate cognitive factors as important for characterizing associations of ALDH2 with drinking.

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