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Genetic Link to Alcohol Dependence and Depression

JAMA Psychiatry; ePub 2017 Oct 25; Zhou, et al

SEMA3A variation is significantly associated with comorbid alcohol dependence (AD) and major depression (MD) in African Americans, according to a recent study. This genome-wide association study analyzed criterion counts of comorbid AD and MD in African American and European American data sets collected as part of the Yale-Penn study of the genetics of drug and alcohol dependence from February 14, 1999, to January 13, 2015. After excluding participants never exposed to alcohol or with missing information for any diagnostic criterion, genome-wide association studies were performed on 2 samples, totaling 4,653 African Americans and 3,169 European Americans. Researchers found:

  • Of total 7,822 participants (3,342 women and 4,480 men; mean [SD] age, 40.1 [10.7] years), the median comorbid criterion count was 6.2.
  • Under the linear regression model, rs139438618 at the semaphorin 3A (SEMA3A) locus was significantly associated with AD and MD comorbidity in African American participants in the Yale-Penn 1 sample; the association was also significant in the Yale-Penn 2 sample.
  • Meta-analysis of the 2 samples yielded a more robust association.
  • There was no significant association identified in European American participants.

Zhou H, Polimanti R, Yang B-Z, et al. Genetic risk variants associated with comorbid alcohol dependence and major depression. [Published online ahead of print October 25, 2017]. JAMA Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.3275.

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