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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2011

Effects of the serotonin transporter (5-HTTLPR) and α2A-adrenoceptor (C-1291G) genotypes on substance use in children and adolescents: a longitudinal study.

Merenäkk, Liis, Mäestu, Jarek; Nordquist, Niklas; Parik, Jüri; Oreland, Lars; Loit, Helle-Mai, Harro Jaanus


RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVE Twin studies suggest that substance use initiation in children and adolescents is determined primarily by environmental influences, whereas the establishment of use patterns is strongly controlled by genetic factors. The present study analysed the effects of the serotonin transporter promoter polymorphism [5-HT transporter gene-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR)] and the α(2A)-adrenoceptor C-1291G genotype (ADRA2A C-1291G) as well as their interaction effects on alcohol, tobacco and drug use from preadolescence to the late adolescence. METHODS Initial sample of 9-year-old children of Estonian Children Personality Behaviour and Health Study (n = 583) was recalled at ages 15 and 18. Participants reported in all waves how frequently they smoked and used alcohol and illicit drugs. RESULTS 5-HTTLPR had age-dependent effects on alcohol, tobacco and drug use: substance use did not differ by genotype at age 9, but at age 15, the participants with the short (s)/s genotype had higher tobacco use, and at age 18, they were more active alcohol, drug and tobacco users. Effects of ADRA2A C-1291G on drug use were dependent on gender, age and 5-HTTLPR. Males (age 18) with ADRA2A CG genotype, when compared to other participants, tended to have higher drug use especially when they had s/s genotype of 5-HTTLPR. CONCLUSIONS Our results reveal that expression of genetic vulnerability for substance use in children and adolescents may depend on age, gender, interaction of genes, and type of substance.

Published in

2011, volume: 215, number: 1, pages: 13-22

Authors' information

Merenaekk, Liis
University of Tartu
Mäestu, Jarek
University of Tartu
Nordquist, Niklas
Uppsala University
Parik, Jueri
University of Tartu
Oreland, Lars
Uppsala University
Loit, Helle-Mai
Estonian Centre of Behavioural and Health
Harro, Jaanus
Uppsala University

UKÄ Subject classification

Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Substance Abuse
Medical Genetics

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