Conduct problems, alcohol problems and hyperactive–inattentive symptoms co-occur at a high rate and are heritable in adolescence. The γ-aminobutyric acid A receptor, α2 gene (GABRA2) is associated with a broad spectrum of externalizing problems and disinhibitory-related traits. The current study tested whether two important forms of disinhibition in adolescence, impulsivity and sensation seeking, mediated the effects of GABRA2 on hyperactive–inattentive symptoms, conduct problems, and alcohol problems. Participants were assessed at two waves (11–17 and 12–18 years old; N = 292). Analyses used the GABRA2 SNP, rs279858, which tags the two complementary (yin–yang) GABRA2 haplotypes. Multiple informants reported on adolescents’ impulsivity and sensation seeking and adolescents self-reported their hyperactive–inattentive symptoms, conduct problems and lifetime alcohol problems. Impulsivity mediated the effect of GABRA2 on alcohol problems, hyperactive–inattentive symptoms, and conduct problems, whereas sensation seeking mediated the effect of GABRA2 on alcohol problems (AA/AG genotypes conferred risk). GABRA2 directly predicted adolescent alcohol problems, but the GG genotype conferred risk. Results suggest that there may be multiple pathways of risk from GABRA2 to adolescent externalizing problems, and suggest important avenues for future research.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/christian-geiser/32/