Understanding Gene-Environmental Interactions in the Etiology of Addictions

Friday, 14 February 2014
Regency C (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Wilson Compton , National Institute on Drug Abuse, Bethesda, MD
Family, twin and adoption studies have documented that addictions of all types have a strong genetic basis and recent research is uncovering the specific genetic factors associated with the onset of these conditions. Yet, epidemics of smoking, obesity and similar behaviors can change rapidly suggesting extreme environmental modification of genetic risks. Current models include assessment of broad social environmental factors and their modification of genetic predisposition.  Recent findings that provide important clues about gene-environment interactions include studies which show that family-based prevention interventions may be particularly effective in a subset of adolescents at increased genetic risk for onset of substance abuse (Brody G, et al. 2009).   Other studies show intriguing interactions of genotype with responses to tobacco taxation policies (Fletcher JM, 2012), and family genetic studies suggest important interactions of genetic and environmental risk factors (Kendler K, et al. 2012).  Furthermore, understanding of epigenetics may provide insights into mechanisms of the impact of genetic variation on response to environment. Studies such as the Gene-Environment-Development-Initiative (GEDI) at NIDA show great promise in unraveling these complex diseases and pointing the way toward effective prevention and treatment.