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Genome-wide association study meta-analysis of the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) in two population-based cohorts (N=141,932)

By Sandra Sanchez-Roige, Abraham A. Palmer, Pierre Fontanillas, Sarah L Elson, The 23andMe Research Team, Substance Use Disorder Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, Mark J Adams, David M Howard, Howard J. Edenberg, Gail Davies, Richard C Crist, Ian J Deary, Andrew M McIntosh, T-K Clarke

Posted 06 Mar 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/275917 (published DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2018.18040369)

Alcohol use disorders (AUD) are common conditions that have enormous social and economic consequences. We obtained quantitative measures using the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) from two population-based cohorts of European ancestry: UK Biobank (UKB; N=121,604) and 23andMe (N=20,328) and performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analysis. We also performed GWAS for AUDIT items 1-3, which focus on consumption (AUDIT-C), and for items 4-10, which focus on the problematic consequences of drinking (AUDIT-P). The GWAS meta-analysis of AUDIT total score identified 10 associated risk loci. Novel associations localized to genes including JCAD and SLC39A13; we also replicated previously identified signals in the genes ADH1B, ADH1C, KLB, and GCKR. The dimensions of AUDIT showed positive genetic correlations with alcohol consumption (rg=0.76-0.92) and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) alcohol dependence (rg=0.33-0.63). AUDIT-P and AUDIT-C showed significantly different patterns of association across a number of traits, including psychiatric disorders. AUDIT-P was positively genetically correlated with schizophrenia (rg=0.22, p=3.0x10-10), major depressive disorder (rg=0.26, p=5.6x10-3), and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; rg=0.23, p=1.1x10-5), whereas AUDIT-C was negatively genetically correlated with major depressive disorder (rg=-0.24, p=3.7x10-3) and ADHD (rg=-0.10, p=1.8x10-2). We also used the AUDIT data in the UKB to identify thresholds for dichotomizing AUDIT total score that optimize genetic correlations with DSM-IV alcohol dependence. Coding individuals with AUDIT total score of ≤4 as controls and ≥12 as cases produced a high genetic correlation with DSM-IV alcohol dependence (rg=0.82, p=3.2x10-6) while retaining most subjects. We conclude that AUDIT scores ascertained in population-based cohorts can be used to explore the genetic basis of both alcohol consumption and AUD.

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