Conduct disorder (CD) is a moderately heritable psychiatric disorder of childhood and adolescence characterized by aggression toward people and animals, destruction of property, deceitfulness or theft, and serious violation of rules. Genome-wide scans using linkage and association methods have identified a number of suggestive genomic regions that are pending replication. A small number of candidate genes (e.g., GABRA2, MAOA, SLC6A4, AVPR1A) are associated with CD related phenotypes across independent studies; however, failures to replicate also exist. Studies of gene-environment interplay show that CD genetic predispositions also contribute to selection into higher-risk environments, and that environmental factors can alter the importance of CD genetic factors and differentially methylate CD candidate genes. The field's understanding of CD etiology will benefit from larger, adequately powered studies in gene identification efforts; the incorporation of polygenic approaches in gene-environment interplay studies; attention to the mechanisms of risk from genes to brain to behavior; and the use of genetically informative data to test quasi-causal hypotheses about purported risk factors.
Keywords: Aggression; Conduct disorder; Epigenetics; Externalizing; Gene identification; Genome-wide association study; G×E; Heritability; Pleiotropy; Quasi-causal designs; rGE.
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