Opioid dependence, a severe addictive disorder and major societal problem, has been demonstrated to be moderately heritable. We conducted a genome-wide association study in Comorbidity and Trauma Study data comparing opioid-dependent daily injectors (N=1167) with opioid misusers who never progressed to daily injection (N=161). The strongest associations, observed for CNIH3 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), were confirmed in two independent samples, the Yale-Penn genetic studies of opioid, cocaine and alcohol dependence and the Study of Addiction: Genetics and Environment, which both contain non-dependent opioid misusers and opioid-dependent individuals. Meta-analyses found five genome-wide significant CNIH3 SNPs. The A allele of rs10799590, the most highly associated SNP, was robustly protective (P=4.30E-9; odds ratio 0.64 (95% confidence interval 0.55-0.74)). Epigenetic annotation predicts that this SNP is functional in fetal brain. Neuroimaging data from the Duke Neurogenetics Study (N=312) provide evidence of this SNP's in vivo functionality; rs10799590 A allele carriers displayed significantly greater right amygdala habituation to threat-related facial expressions, a phenotype associated with resilience to psychopathology. Computational genetic analyses of physical dependence on morphine across 23 mouse strains yielded significant correlations for haplotypes in CNIH3 and functionally related genes. These convergent findings support CNIH3 involvement in the pathophysiology of opioid dependence, complementing prior studies implicating the α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) glutamate system.
Individual differences in coping styles are associated with psychological vulnerability to stress. Recent animal research suggests that coping styles reflect trade-offs between proactive and reactive threat responses during active avoidance paradigms, with proactive responses associated with better stress tolerance. Based on these preclinical findings, we developed a novel instructed active avoidance paradigm to characterize patterns of proactive and reactive responses using behavioral, motoric, and autonomic measures in humans. Analyses revealed significant inter-individual variability not only in the magnitude of general emotional responsiveness but also the likelihood to specifically express proactive or reactive responses. In men but not women, individual differences in general emotional responsiveness were linked to increased trait anxiety while proactive coping style was linked to increased trait aggression. These patterns are consistent with preclinical findings and suggest that instructed active avoidance paradigms may be useful in assessing psychological vulnerability to stress using objective behavioral measures.
Prior work suggests that there may be two distinct pathways of alcohol use disorder (AUD) risk: one associated with positive emotion enhancement and behavioral impulsivity, and another associated with negative emotion relief and coping. We sought to map these two pathways onto individual differences in neural reward and threat processing assessed using blood-oxygen-level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging in a sample of 759 undergraduate students (426 women, mean age 19.65±1.24 years) participating in the Duke Neurogenetics Study. We demonstrate that problem drinking is highest in the context of stress and in those with one of two distinct neural phenotypes: (1) a combination of relatively low reward-related activity of the ventral striatum (VS) and high threat-related reactivity of the amygdala; or (2) a combination of relatively high VS activity and low amygdala reactivity. In addition, we demonstrate that the relationship between stress and problem alcohol use is mediated by impulsivity, as reflected in monetary delay discounting rates, for those with high VS-low amygdala reactivity, and by anxious/depressive symptomatology for those with the opposite neural risk phenotype. Across both neural phenotypes, we found that greater divergence between VS and amygdala reactivity predicted greater risk for problem drinking. Finally, for those individuals with the low VS-high amygdala risk phenotype we found that stress not only predicted the presence of AUD diagnosis at the time of neuroimaging but also subsequent problem drinking reported 3 months following study completion. These results offer new insight into the neural basis of AUD risk and suggest novel biological targets for early individualized treatment or prevention.
Emotional neglect is associated with multiple negative outcomes, particularly increased risk for depression. Motivated by increasing evidence of reward-related ventral striatum (VS) dysfunction in depression, we investigated the role of developmental changes in VS activity on the emergence of depressive symptomatology as a function of emotional neglect.We examined relationships between longitudinal neuroimaging of reward-related VS activity, assessments of mood, and measures of emotional neglect in 106 participants first scanned between ages 11 to 15 and then 2 years later.We found that greater levels of emotional neglect were associated with blunted development of reward-related VS activity between the first and second assessments (as indexed by lower residualized change scores). Additionally, we found that decreases in this reward-related VS activity were related to greater depressive symptomatology and partially mediated the association between emotional neglect and subsequent depressive symptomatology.Our results provide an important demonstration that blunted development of reward-related VS activity as a function of emotional neglect predicts the emergence of depressive symptoms in adolescents. Further, our results are consistent with emerging evidence for the importance of reward-related VS dysfunction in the etiology and pathophysiology of depression. These results are a first step toward developing the ability to predict, prevent, and treat stress-related psychopathology through the targeting of specific neural phenotypes.