Shared additive genetic variation for alcohol dependence among subjects of African and European ancestry

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Alcohol dependence (AD) affects individuals from all racial/ethnic groups, and previous research suggests that there is considerable variation in AD risk between and among various ancestrally defined groups in the United States. Although the reasons for these differences are likely due in part to contributions of complex sociocultural factors, limited research has attempted to examine whether similar genetic variation plays a role across ancestral groups. Using a pooled sample of individuals of African and European ancestry (AA/EA) obtained through data shared within the Database for Genotypes and Phenotypes, we estimated the extent to which additive genetic similarity for AD between AA and EAs using common single nucleotide polymorphisms overlapped across the two populations. AD was represented as a factor score by using Diagnostic and Statistical Manual dependence criteria, and genetic data were imputed by using the 1000 Genomes Reference Panel. Analyses revealed a significant single nucleotide polymorphism-based heritability of 17 percent (SE = 5) in EAs and 24 percent (SE = 15) in AAs. Further, a significant genetic correlation of 0.77 (SE = 0.46) suggests that the allelic architecture influencing the AD factor for EAs and AAs is largely similar across the two populations. Analyses indicated that investigating the genetic underpinnings of alcohol dependence in different ethnic groups may serve to highlight core etiological factors common to both groups and unique etiological factors specific to each ethnic group.

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