Genetic influences on delayed reward discounting: A genome-wide prioritized subset approach

Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2019 Feb;27(1):29-37. doi: 10.1037/pha0000227. Epub 2018 Sep 27.


Delayed reward discounting (DRD) is a behavioral economic measure of impulsivity that has been consistently associated with addiction. It has also been identified as a promising addiction endophenotype, linking specific sources of genetic variation to individual risk. A challenge in the studies to date is that levels of DRD are often confounded with prior drug use, and previous studies have also had limited genomic scope. The current investigation sought to address these issues by studying DRD in healthy young adults with low levels of substance use (N = 986; 62% female, 100% European ancestry) and investigating genetic variation genome-wide. The genome-wide approach used a prioritized subset design, organizing the tests into theoretically and empirically informed categories and apportioning power accordingly. Three subsets were used: (a) a priori loci implicated by previous studies; (b) high-value addiction (HVA) markers from the recently developed SmokeScreen array; and (c) an atheoretical genome-wide scan. Among a priori loci, a nominally significant association was present between DRD and rs521674 in ADRA2A. No significant HVA loci were detected. One statistically significant genome-wide association was detected (rs13395777, p = 2.8 × 10-8), albeit in an intergenic region of unknown function. These findings are generally not supportive of the previous candidate gene studies and suggest that DRD has a complex genetic architecture that will require considerably larger samples to identify genetic associations more definitively. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Addiction Medicine / methods
  • Behavior, Addictive* / genetics
  • Behavior, Addictive* / psychology
  • Delay Discounting*
  • Economics, Behavioral
  • Female
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Male
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha-2 / genetics*
  • Reward*
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / genetics
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / psychology
  • Young Adult


  • ADRA2A protein, human
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha-2