• Article

Genetic analysis of diagnostic systems of alcoholism in males


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


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.