Introduction: The genetic heritability for sensation-seeking tendencies ranges from 40 to 60%. Sensation-seeking behaviors typically manifest during adolescence and are associated with alcohol and cigarette experimentation in adolescents. Social disinhibition is an aspect of sensation-seeking that is closely tied to cigarette and alcohol experimentation.
Methods: We examined the contribution of candidate genes to social disinhibition among 1132 Mexican origin youth in Houston, Texas, adjusting for established demographic and psychosocial risk factors. Saliva samples were obtained at baseline in 2005-06, and social disinhibition and other psychosocial data were obtained in 2008-09. Participants were genotyped for 672 functional and tagging SNPs potentially related to sensation-seeking, risk-taking, smoking, and alcohol use.
Results: Six SNPs were significantly associated with social disinhibition scores, after controlling for false discovery and adjusting for population stratification and relevant demographic/psychosocial characteristics. Minor alleles for three of the SNPs (rs1998220 on OPRM1; rs9534511 on HTR2A; and rs4938056 on HTR3B) were associated with increased risk of social disinhibition, while minor alleles for the other three SNPs (rs1003921 on KCNC1; rs16116 downstream of NPY; and rs16870286 on LINC00518) exhibited a protective effect. Age, linguistic acculturation, thrill and adventure-seeking, and drug and alcohol-seeking were all significantly positively associated with increased risk of social disinhibition in a multivariable model (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: These results add to our knowledge of genetic risk factors for social disinhibition. Additional research is needed to verify whether these SNPs are associated with social disinhibition among youth of different ethnicities and nationalities, and to elucidate whether and how these SNPs functionally contribute to social disinhibition.
Keywords: Genetic association study; Mexican-origin youth; SNPs; sensation seeking; social disinhibition.