• Article

Genetic analysis of diagnostic systems of alcoholism in males

Research into genes involved in alcoholism could benefit from use of diagnostic systems most sensitive to detecting genetic influences. In this study, heritable influences were estimated in a single twin sample with commonly used criteria for alcoholism.

Male twin probands ascertained through alcohol and drug abuse treatment programs and their same-sex cotwins (54 monozygotic and 65 dizygotic pairs) were diagnosed independently by DSM-III (alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse and/or dependence), Feighner (probable and definite alcoholism), and Cloninger (type 1 and type 2 alcoholism) systems. Using univariate structural equation modeling, heritability was estimated for each diagnostic system.

The highest heritability estimates were obtained for Feighner probable alcoholism (h2 = .63), Cloninger type 2 alcoholism (h2 = .54), and DSM-III alcohol dependence (h2 = .52).

Certain diagnostic systems appear to have greater sensitivity for detecting genetic influence and may therefore be more appropriate for use in molecular genetic studies attempting to find genes for alcoholism.


van den Bree, M. B. M., Johnson, E., Neale, M. C., Svikis, D. S., McGue, M., & Pickens, R. W. (1998). Genetic analysis of diagnostic systems of alcoholism in males. Biological Psychiatry, 43(2), 139-145. DOI: 10.1016/S0006-3223(97)00225-4