Interrelationship of genetic and environmental influences on conduct disorder and alcohol and marijuana dependence symptoms

William R. True, Andrew C. Heath, Jeffrey F. Scherrer, Hong Xian, Nong Lin, Seth A. Eisen, Michael J. Lyons, Jack Goldberg, Ming T. Tsuang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Data from the Vietnam Era Twin (VET) Registry were analyzed to explore the degree to which the same genetic and environmental factors contribute to childhood conduct disorder symptoms and to alcohol and marijuana dependence symptoms. Data on conduct disorder and alcohol and marijuana dependence were obtained from administration of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule to 1,856 monozygotic and 1,479 dizygotic male-male twin pair members of the VET Registry. Multivariate genetic models were compared to determine the genetic and environmental influences common and or specific to all three phenotypes. A full model that allowed for common genetic and environmental influences to all three phenotypes gave a good fit to the data, but the best fitting reduced model did not allow for a genetic influence on conduct disorder symptoms. Under the best fitting reduced model, genes explained 44.7% of the variance in risk for alcohol dependence symptoms. The genetic liability for symptoms of marijuana dependence was due to a 36.3% specific contribution and a 7.6% contribution from genes common with alcohol dependence symptoms. Family environmental contributions common to all three phenotypes explained 46.7%, 11.9%, and 21.3% of variance in risk for symptoms of conduct disorder, alcohol dependence, and marijuana dependence, respectively. Common family environmental factors contribute to risk of conduct disorder symptoms and alcohol and marijuana dependence symptoms. Common genetic influences contribute to risk of symptoms of alcohol dependence and marijuana dependence. While our findings suggest genes do not contribute to co-morbid conduct disorder symptoms, comparisons with other twin studies suggest that the role of genes in risk for conduct disorder remains uncertain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-397
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics - Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 20 1999


  • Genes
  • Psychopathology
  • Substance abuse


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