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Background: Impulsive personality traits are complex heritable traits that are governed by frontal-subcortical circuits and are associated with numerous neuropsychiatric disorders, particularly drug abuse. Methods: In collaboration with the genetics company 23andMe, Inc., we performed several genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on measures of impulsive personality traits (the short version of the UPPSP Impulsive Behavior Scale, and the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale [BIS-11]) and drug experimentation (the number of drug classes an individual has tried in their lifetime) in up to 22,861 male and female adult research participants of European ancestry. Results: Impulsive personality traits and drug experimentation showed SNP-heritabilities that ranged from 5 to 11%. Genetic variants in the CADM2 locus were significantly associated with the UPPSP Sensation Seeking subscale (P = 8.3 x 10-9, rs139528938) and showed a suggestive association with drug experimentation (P = 3.0 x 10-7, rs2163971; r2 = 0.68 with rs139528938); CADM2 has been previously associated with measures of risky behaviors and self-reported risk tolerance, cannabis initiation, alcohol consumption, as well as information speed processing, body mass index (BMI) variation and obesity. Furthermore, genetic variants in the CACNA1I locus were significantly associated with the UPPSP Negative Urgency subscale (P = 3.8 x 10-8, rs199694726). Multiple subscales from both UPPSP and BIS showed strong genetic correlations (>0.5) with drug experimentation and other substance use traits measured in independent cohorts, including smoking initiation, and lifetime cannabis use. Several UPPSP and BIS subscales were genetically correlated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (rg = 0.30-0.51, p < 8.69 x 10-3), supporting their validity as endophenotypes. Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate a role for common genetic contributions to individual differences in impulsivity. Furthermore, our study is the first to provide a genetic dissection of the relationship between different types of impulsive personality traits and various psychiatric disorders.

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