Shared genetic liability for alcohol consumption, alcohol problems, and suicide attempt: Evaluating the role of impulsivity
Stephenson, M., Lannoy, S., & Edwards, A.C.
Heavy drinking and diagnosis with alcohol use disorder (AUD) are consistently associated with risk for suicide attempt (SA). Though the shared genetic architecture among alcohol consumption and problems (ACP) and SA remains largely uncharacterized, impulsivity has been proposed as a heritable, intermediate phenotype for both alcohol problems and suicidal behavior. The present study investigated the extent to which shared liability for ACP and SA is genetically related to five dimensions of impulsivity. Analyses incorporated summary statistics from genome-wide association studies of alcohol consumption (N = 160,824), problems (N = 160,824), and dependence (N = 46,568), alcoholic drinks per week (N = 537,349), suicide attempt (N = 513,497), impulsivity (N = 22,861), and extraversion (N = 63,030). We used genomic structural equation modeling (Genomic SEM) to, first, estimate a common factor model with alcohol consumption, problems, and dependence, drinks per week, and SA included as indicators. Next, we evaluated the correlations between this common genetic factor and five factors representing genetic liability to negative urgency, positive urgency, lack of premeditation, sensation-seeking, and lack of perseverance. Common genetic liability to ACP and SA was significantly correlated with all five impulsive personality traits examined (rs = 0.24–0.53, ps < 0.002), and the largest correlation was with lack of premeditation, though supplementary analyses suggested that these findings were potentially more strongly influenced by ACP than SA. These analyses have potential implications for screening and prevention: Impulsivity can be comprehensively assessed in childhood, whereas heavy drinking and suicide attempt are quite rare prior to adolescence. Our findings provide preliminary evidence that features of impulsivity may serve as early indicators of genetic risk for alcohol problems and suicidality.