Jonathan Covault

Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Connecticut, United States

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Publications (69)275.25 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Despite evidence that African Americans are disproportionately affected by drinking to cope relative to European Americans, African American college students' drinking motives remain understudied. Additionally, most research has only examined between-person differences in drinking to cope as a predictor of alcohol use, ignoring within-person variability. In the current daily diary study of 462 African American undergraduates from a historically Black university, associations between episode-specific drinking to cope motives and alcohol use were tested, an approach more consistent with motivational theories of drinking. At baseline, students completed traditional global drinking motive measures; then for 30 days they reported the number of standard drinks they consumed the previous night, and, if they drank, their coping, enhancement, and social reasons for doing so. Students who reported higher mean levels of episode-specific coping motives, on average, consumed more alcohol on drinking evenings. Furthermore, mean episode-specific coping motives, but not global coping motives, predicted average levels of alcohol use. Additionally, coping motives were particularly important for predicting nonsocial (vs. social) drinking. Finally, during evenings for which students reported higher than usual episode-specific coping motives, men consumed more alcohol in both social and nonsocial contexts; in contrast, women reporting higher than usual drinking-to-cope motives only consumed more nonsocial drinks. In conclusion, drinking among African American college students was related to coping motives, particularly among men and in the context of nonsocial alcohol consumption. Moreover, motivational theories of alcohol use may be refined by measuring episode-specific drinking motives that more accurately capture the drinking-to-cope process. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
    Psychology of addictive behaviors : journal of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors. 08/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: BackgroundA functional polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene has been widely studied as a risk factor and moderator of treatment for a variety of psychopathologic conditions. To evaluate whether 5-HTTLPR moderates the effects of treatment to reduce heavy drinking, we studied 112 high-functioning European-American men who have sex with men (MSM). Subjects participated in a randomized clinical trial of naltrexone (NTX) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for problem drinking.Methods Subjects were treated for 12 weeks with 100 mg/d of oral NTX or placebo (PBO). All participants received medical management with adjusted brief behavioral compliance enhancement treatment (BBCET) alone or in combination with modified behavioral self-control therapy (MBSCT; an amalgam of motivational interviewing and CBT). Participants were genotyped for the tri-allelic 5-HTTLPR polymorphism (i.e., low-activity S′ or high-activity L′ alleles).ResultsDuring treatment, the number of weekly heavy drinking days (HDD; defined as 5 or more standard drinks per day) was significantly lower in subjects with the L′L′ (N = 26, p = 0.015) or L′S′ (N = 52, p = 0.016) genotype than those with the S′S′ (N = 34) genotype regardless of treatment type. There was a significant interaction of genotype with treatment: For subjects with the S′S′ genotype, the effects of MBSCT or NTX on HDD were significantly greater than the minimal intervention (i.e., BBCET or PBO, p = 0.007 and p = 0.049, respectively). In contrast, for subjects with 1 or 2 L′ alleles, the effects of the more intensive psychosocial treatment (MBSCT) or NTX did not significantly differ from BBCET or PBO.Conclusions These preliminary findings support the utility of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism for personalizing treatment selection in problem drinkers.
    Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 07/2014; · 3.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Topiramate, which interacts with multiple neurotransmitter and enzyme systems, is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat seizure disorder, prevent migraine, and (in combination with phentermine) reduce weight. Topiramate has also been shown in multiple studies to reduce heavy drinking. The authors found that topiramate 200 mg/day significantly reduced heavy drinking in heavy drinkers with a treatment goal of reduced drinking (Kranzler et al., 2014). Further, in the European American (EA) subsample (n = 122), a single nucleotide polymorphism (rs2832407) in GRIK1, which encodes the GluK1 subunit of the kainate receptor, moderated the effect on heavy drinking days. Here the authors examined the effects of topiramate on body mass index (BMI) and the moderating effect of rs2832407 in the EA subsample from Kranzler et al. (2014). Across the 12 weeks of treatment, BMI was reduced by 1.2 kg/m2 (p < .001) in the topiramate group but was unchanged in the placebo group. There was no evidence of moderation by rs2832407 of topiramate's effects on BMI. Controlling for changes in drinking and other potential confounders did not alter the findings. These results suggest that the effect of topiramate on drinking behavior, in which the GluK1-containing kainate receptor appears to play a key role, can be dissociated from its effect on weight, the specific mechanism of which remains to be determined. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
    Experimental and clinical psychopharmacology. 06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Animal models suggest that neuroactive steroids contribute to alcohol's acute effects. We previously reported that a common nonsynonymous polymorphism, AKR1C3*2 in the gene encoding the enzyme 3α-HSD2/17β-HSD5, and a synonymous single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs248793, in SRD5A1, which encodes 5α-reductase, were associated with alcohol dependence (AD).
    Psychopharmacology 05/2014; · 4.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We (Kranzler et al., 2014) reported that topiramate 200 mg/day reduced heavy drinking days and increased abstinent days in 138 heavy drinkers whose treatment goal was to reduce drinking to safe levels. In that 12-week, placebo-controlled study, we measured drinking using the Timeline Follow-back method at each treatment visit. In addition to the intent-to-treat effects of topiramate, we found that a single nucleotide polymorphism (rs2832407) in GRIK1, encoding the GluK1 subunit of the kainate receptor, moderated the treatment effect in European Americans (EAs; n = 122). Topiramate reduced heavy drinking only in rs2832407*C allele homozygotes. Here, we augment those analyses by using patients' daily reports obtained using interactive voice response technology; (a) to validate the interactive effects of GRIK1 and topiramate as predictors of drinking level; and, (b) to examine changes in expected positive effects of drinking (i.e. positive outcome expectancies) and desire to drink. We found that rs2832407*C allele homozygotes treated with topiramate drank less overall during treatment than those receiving placebo, validating our earlier findings for heavy drinking days (Kranzler et al., 2014). There was also a study day × medication group × genotype group interaction that predicted both positive alcohol expectancies and desire to drink, with rs2832407*C-allele homozygotes treated with topiramate showing the largest decreases in these outcomes during the study period. Changes in positive alcohol expectancies or desire to drink did not mediate the effects on drinking. These findings validate and extend our previous pharmacogenetic findings with topiramate.
    The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology 04/2014; · 5.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: Racial discrimination has been identified as an important predictor of alcohol-related outcomes for African Americans. The goal of the current study was to extend previously found links between lifetime discrimination, alcohol use, and alcohol problems as well as to elucidate the affective mechanisms underlying these associations, as moderated by gender. Method: A multiple-groups structural equation model was computed using survey data collected from 619 students from a historically Black college/university. Results: The final model provided excellent fit to the data, explaining 6% of the variance in alcohol consumption and 37% of the variance in alcohol problems. Discrimination was a significant predictor of alcohol-related problems but not, by and large, level of use. For men, anger-but not discrimination-specific anger-was a significant partial mediator of the link between discrimination and both alcohol use and alcohol problems. Depression partially mediated the link between discrimination and alcohol problems for both men and women. Conclusions: The results suggest that, for African Americans whose drinking leads to drinking-related problems, discrimination and poor affective self-regulation are highly relevant and predictive factors, especially for men. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 75, 228-234, 2014).
    Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs 03/2014; 75(2):228-34. · 1.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Preclinical studies support the hypothesis that endogenous neuroactive steroids mediate some effects of alcohol. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of dutasteride inhibition of 5α-reduced neuroactive steroid production on subjective responses to alcohol in adult men. Using a within-subject factorial design, 70 men completed four randomly ordered monthly sessions in which pretreatment with 4 mg dutasteride or placebo was paired with a moderate dose of alcohol (0.8 g/kg) or placebo beverage. The pharmacologic effect of dutasteride was measured by an assay of serum androstanediol glucuronide. Self-reports of alcohol effects were obtained at 40-min intervals following alcohol administration using the Biphasic Alcohol Effects Scale (BAES) and the Alcohol Sensation Scale (SS). We used linear mixed models to examine the effects of dutasteride and alcohol on BAES and SS responses and the interaction of dutasteride with the GABRA2 alcohol dependence-associated polymorphism rs279858. We also examined whether exposure to dutasteride influenced drinking in the weeks following each laboratory session. A single 4-mg dose of dutasteride produced a 70 % reduction in androstanediol glucuronide. Dutasteride pretreatment reduced alcohol effects on the BAES sedation and SS anesthesia scales. There was no interaction of dutasteride with rs279858. Heavy drinkers had fewer heavy drinking days during the 2 weeks following the dutasteride sessions and fewer total drinks in the first week after dutasteride. These results provide evidence that neuroactive steroids mediate some of the sedative effects of alcohol in adult men and that dutasteride may reduce drinking, presumably through its effects on neuroactive steroid concentrations.
    Psychopharmacology 02/2014; · 4.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE Topiramate has been shown to reduce drinking and heavy drinking in individuals with alcohol dependence whose goal was to stop drinking. The authors evaluated the efficacy and tolerability of topiramate in heavy drinkers whose treatment goal was to reduce drinking to safe levels. METHOD A total of 138 individuals (62.3% men) were randomly assigned to receive 12 weeks of treatment with topiramate (N=67), at a maximal daily dose of 200 mg, or matching placebo (N=71). Both groups received brief counseling to reduce drinking and increase abstinent days. It was hypothesized that topiramate-treated patients would be better able to achieve these goals, and it was predicted that based on prior research, the effects would be moderated by a single nucleotide polymorphism (rs2832407) in GRIK1, encoding the kainate GluK1 receptor subunit. RESULTS The rate of treatment completion was 84.9% and equal by treatment group. Topiramate treatment significantly reduced heavy drinking days and increased abstinent days relative to placebo. Patients receiving topiramate also had lower concentrations of the liver enzyme γ-glutamyl transpeptidase and lower scores on a measure of alcohol-related problems than the placebo group. In a European American subsample (N=122), topiramate's effect on heavy drinking days was significantly greater than that for placebo only in rs2832407 C-allele homozygotes. CONCLUSIONS These findings support the use of topiramate at a daily dose of 200 mg to reduce heavy drinking in problem drinkers. The moderator effect of rs2832407, if validated, would facilitate the identification of heavy drinkers who are likely to respond well to topiramate treatment and provide an important personalized treatment option. The pharmacogenetic findings also implicate the kainate receptor in the mechanism of topiramate's effects on heavy drinking.
    American Journal of Psychiatry 02/2014; · 14.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Health disparities research seeks to eliminate disproportionate negative health outcomes experienced in some racial/ethnic minority groups. This brief review presents findings on factors associated with drinking and alcohol-related problems in racial/ethnic groups. Those discussed are as follows: (i) biological pathways to alcohol problems, (ii) gene × stress interactions, (iii) neighborhood disadvantage, stress, and access to alcohol, and (iv) drinking cultures and contexts. These factors and their interrelationships are complex, requiring a multilevel perspective. The use of interdisciplinary teams and an epigenetic focus are suggested to move the research forward. The application of multilevel research to policy, prevention, and intervention programs may help prioritize combinations of the most promising intervention targets.
    Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 01/2014; · 3.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Variation in genes encoding GABAA receptor subunits has been implicated in the risk of alcohol dependence (AD). We sought to replicate and extend previous findings of a moderating effect of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in GABRA2 (which encodes the GABAA α-2 subunit) on the subjective effects of alcohol by examining SNPs in this and the adjacent GABRG1 gene on chromosome 4. Fifty-two European-Americans (22 males, 28 light drinkers and 24 heavy drinkers) completed 3 laboratory sessions, during which they drank low-dose, high-dose, or placebo alcohol prior to undergoing periodic assessments of stimulation, sedation and drug enjoyment. We genotyped subjects for three SNPs previously associated with AD: rs279858 in GABRA2, and rs7654165 and rs6447493 in GABRG1. Two SNPs were associated with altered stimulatory effects of alcohol as measured on the Biphasic Alcohol Effects Scale, (rs279858: P = 0.0046; rs6447493: P = 0.0023); both effects were in the opposite direction of previous findings. Carriers of the rs279858 C allele experienced greater stimulation from alcohol. Further inspection of the rs6447493 interaction did not support a pharmacogenetic effect. The effects of rs279858 (but not the other two SNPs) on items from a secondary outcome measure, the Drug Effects Questionnaire (DEQ), were significant. Higher ratings by individuals with the C allele were observed on the DEQ items 'feel the alcohol effect' (P < 0.001), 'like the alcohol effect' (P < 0.001) and feel 'high' (P < 0.001). We did not find that the GABRG1 SNPs rs7654165 and rs6447493 moderated the effects of alcohol. Greater stimulatory and euphoric effects of alcohol in carriers of the rs279858 C allele may, in part, explain the previously reported association of this allele with AD.
    Alcohol and Alcoholism 10/2013; · 1.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Topiramate (TOP) blocks glutamate receptors and facilitates GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid), neurotransmission, effects that may facilitate smoking cessation. We compared the effects of behavioral counseling combined with (a) TOP, (b) TOP/nicotine patch (TOP/NIC), or (c) placebo (PLC) for smoking cessation. We conducted a 10-week randomized trial in which subjects and research personnel were blinded to TOP versus PLC but not to the TOP/NIC patch condition. In groups receiving TOP, the medication dosage was titrated gradually up to 200mg/day. The smoking quit date (QD) was scheduled after 2 weeks of medication treatment. NIC (21mg) was started on the QD in subjects randomized to the TOP/NIC condition. The main outcome measure was the end-of-treatment, 4-week continuous abstinence rate (CAR; biochemically confirmed). Fifty-seven subjects were randomized to treatment. The 4-week CAR was 1 of 19 (5%) in the PLC group, 5 of 19 (26%) in the TOP group, and 7 of 19 (37%) in the TOP/NIC group (p = .056). Pairwise comparisons showed a difference between TOP/NIC and PLC (p = .042) and a nonsignificant difference between TOP and PLC (p = .18). The PLC group gained 0.37 lb/week, the TOP group lost 0.41 lb/week, and the TOP/NIC group lost 0.07 lb/week (p = .004). Pairwise comparisons showed a difference between TOP and PLC (p < .001) and between TOP/NIC and PLC groups (p = .035). Paresthesia was more frequent in subjects on TOP than PLC (p = .011). TOP, alone or in combination with the NIC, resulted in a numerically higher quit rate than PLC and decreased weight. A larger, PLC-controlled trial is needed to confirm these findings.
    Nicotine & Tobacco Research 09/2013; · 2.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Clinical and genetic studies suggest circadian clock genes may contribute to biological mechanisms underlying alcohol use disorders (AUD). In particular, the Per2 gene regulates alcohol consumption in mutant animals, and in humans with AUD, the 10870 variant in PER2 has been associated with alcohol consumption. However, with respect to function, the molecular clock remains largely uncharacterized in AUD patients. METHODS: In skin fibroblast cultures from well-characterized human AUD patients (n = 19) and controls (n = 13), we used a bioluminescent reporter gene (Per2::luc) to measure circadian rhythms in gene expression at high sampling density for 5 days. Cells were genotyped for the PER2 10870 variant. The rhythm parameters period and amplitude were then analyzed using a case-control design and by genetic and clinical characteristics of the AUD subjects. RESULTS: There were no differences between AUD cases and controls in rhythm parameters. However, period was inversely correlated with illness severity (defined as the number of alcohol dependence criteria met). The PER2 variant 10870 was not associated with differences in rhythm parameters. CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that differences in the cellular circadian clock are not pronounced in fibroblasts from AUD cases and controls. However, we found evidence that the circadian clock may be associated with an altered trajectory of AUD, possibly related to illness severity. Future work will be required to determine the mechanistic basis of this association.
    Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 03/2013; · 3.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It is well known that naltrexone, an FDA-approved medication for treatment of alcohol dependence, is effective for only a subset of individuals. Recent studies have examined the utility of a functional A118G single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) of the mu-opioid receptor gene (OPRM1) as a predictor of naltrexone treatment response. Although the findings to date have generally been consistent with a moderating effect of the SNP, further evaluation of this hypothesis is warranted. To evaluate whether problem drinkers with one or two copies of the 118G allele respond better to naltrexone treatment. The treatment goal in this cohort of high functioning men who have sex with men (MSM) was to reduce heavy drinking, rather than to promote abstinence. 112 subjects of European ancestry from a randomized clinical trial of naltrexone and behavioral therapy for problem drinking MSM were included in the analysis. Subjects were treated for 12 weeks with 100 mg/day of oral naltrexone hydrochloride. All participants received medical management with a modified version of the Brief Behavioral Compliance Enhancement Treatment (BBCET), alone or in combination with Modified Behavioral Self-control Therapy (MBSCT). Naltrexone-treated subjects with one or two 118G alleles had a significantly greater percentage of non-hazardous drinking (NoH) (p < 0.01) than those treated with placebo or A118 homozygotes in either medication group. These results are consistent with a modest moderating effect of the OPRM1 118G allele on the reduction of heavy drinking by naltrexone treatment.
    Journal of alcoholism and drug dependence. 01/2013; 1(1):101.
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    ABSTRACT: We previously reported moderating effects of age of onset of alcohol dependence (AD) and a functional polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) in the gene encoding the serotonin transporter protein in a sample of 134 individuals participating in a 12-week, placebo-controlled trial of sertraline. To understand more fully the effects seen in that study, we examined moderation by negative moods reported each evening, with nighttime drinking intensity (i.e. the number of standard drinks consumed at night) as the dependent variable. We found a daily anxiety × age of onset × 5-HTTLPR polymorphism × medication interaction, which reflected a daily anxiety × medication group effect for early-onset individuals homozygous for the high-expression (L') allele, but not others. Specifically, on days characterized by relatively high levels of anxiety, early-onset L' homozygotes receiving placebo reduced their drinking intensity significantly. In contrast, early-onset L' homozygotes treated with sertraline non-significantly increased their drinking intensity. These findings implicate anxiety as a key moderator of the observed pharmacogenetic effects. These findings have important implications because of the high prevalence of AD and the frequency with which SSRIs are prescribed to treat the disorders.
    Addiction Biology 11/2012; · 5.91 Impact Factor
  • Verica Milivojevic, Jonathan Covault
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    ABSTRACT: AIMS: We tested whether an exposure to alcohol in late adolescence, an age of rapid increase in neuroactive steroid precursors, would increase voluntary alcohol consumption in adult rats and whether this effect would be modulated by finasteride, an inhibitor of neuroactive steroid synthesis. METHODS: In Experiment 1, we exposed male Wistar rats to 8% alcohol during the dark cycle for 1 week during late adolescence [postnatal days (PNDs) 51-58], and then measured voluntary alcohol consumption 1 month later in adulthood (PNDs 91-104). In Experiment 2, finasteride was administered during the forced alcohol exposure in late adolescence and, in Experiment 3, during voluntary alcohol consumption in adulthood. Plasma was collected at the end of each finasteride treatment to confirm the reduction of plasma neuroactive steroid levels. RESULTS: We found that a daily 12-h exposure to alcohol for 7 days in late adolescence significantly increased voluntary alcohol consumption (4-fold) a month later during adulthood. Finasteride administration in late adolescence increased group alcohol intake in late adolescence but did not block the effect of adolescent alcohol exposure on increasing alcohol preference in adulthood. There was no effect of finasteride treatment in adulthood on alcohol preference. CONCLUSIONS: A daily 12-h exposure to alcohol for 7 days in late adolescence was sufficient to induce chronically increased alcohol preference in adulthood, indicating that this age may be sensitive to the effects of alcohol.
    Alcohol and Alcoholism 09/2012; · 1.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To evaluate the role of the functional Asn40Asp polymorphism in the mu-opioid receptor gene on drinking behavior and naltrexone's ability to attenuate drinking, we used a daily diary method in a 12-week, randomized clinical trial of naltrexone to reduce drinking. Participants (n = 158 problem drinkers) were assigned to receive either daily or targeted naltrexone 50 mg (n = 81) or matching placebo (n = 77). Patients reported by telephone each evening their current desire to drink and their drinking during the previous night and during the reporting day. We examined genotype, medication, desire to drink and their interactions as predictors of nighttime drinks consumed, controlling for drinking earlier in the day. Asp40 carriers showed a stronger positive association between evening desire (deviations from their mean levels) and later night drinking levels than Asn40 homozygotes (P = 0.019). The desire × genotype × medication condition interaction was also significant (P = 0.009), with a significant desire × genotype interaction for the placebo group ( P = 0.001) but not for the naltrexone group (P = 0.74). In summary, when the evening level of desire to drink was relatively high, Asp40 allele carriers were at greater risk than Asn40 homozygotes to drink more, which was attenuated by naltrexone. Although average measures across the study were not informative, daily reports helped to demonstrate the moderating effects of genetic variation on the relation between desire to drink and alcohol consumption and the effects of naltrexone on that phenotype.
    Addiction Biology 07/2012; · 5.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To assess whether DNA methylation patterns in chronic alcoholics are different from non-alcoholic sibling controls. We examined the methylation patterns in DNA samples from 25 chronic alcoholics and 22 matched siblings as controls (one per family). DNA was extracted from peripheral blood and analyzed for differences in the methylation patterns after bisulfite-conversion. We used the Illumina GoldenGate Methylation Cancer Panel I (Illumina, San Diego, CA), which probes the methylation profile at 1505 CpG sites from 807 cancer related genes. We excluded the 84 X-chromosome CpG sites and 134 autosomal CpG sites that failed to show a within sample reliability score of at least 95% for all samples, leaving 1287 autosomal CpG sites (associated with 743 autosomal genes) with reliable signals for all samples. A methylation score was calculated as the average methylation for the 1287 CpG sites examined. Differences were assessed by a two-sample t-test. We also examined the average sib pair differences in methylation scores at each of the 1287 sites. All analyses were performed using SPSS, version 9.0, P < 0.05 was considered significant. Methylation levels at the 1287 CpG sites averaged 28.2% for both alcoholics and controls. The mean difference in methylation scores between alcoholic and non-alcoholic sibs by CpG site was < 1% with small inter-individual variances; and only 5 CpG sites had an average sib difference > 5%. Subgroup analysis showed that methylation scores were significantly lower for the alcoholic-dependent subjects who smoked compared to their non-smoking unaffected siblings. Specifically, among smokers who are alcoholic, global methylation indices were significantly lower than in non-alcoholic sib controls, whereas among non-smoking alcoholics, the global indices were significantly higher (P = 0.008). Although we observed no effect of alcoholism alone on DNA methylation, there is a decrease in alcoholics who smoke, suggesting a mechanism for alcohol-tobacco synergy for carcinogenesis.
    World journal of gastrointestinal oncology. 06/2012; 4(6):138-44.
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    ABSTRACT: Covault et al. [Covault et al. (2007); Biol Psychiatry 61(5): 609-616] reported that the common functional polymorphism, 5-HTTLPR, in the serotonin transporter gene moderated the association between past-year stressful events and daily reports of drinking in a sample of European-American (EA) college students. We examined this effect in college students of African descent. Students recruited at a Historically Black University (n = 564) completed web-based measures of past-year stressful life experiences and daily reports of drinking and heavy drinking over a 30-day period. Participants were genotyped for the tri-allelic 5-HTTLPR polymorphism and dichotomized as low-activity S' allele carriers or high-activity L' homozygotes. Generalized linear models were used to examine the effects of life stress, genotype, and their interaction on the two drinking measures. In students who completed 15 or more daily surveys (n = 393), there was a significant interaction of past-year stressful events, 5-HTTLPR genotype, and gender on the number of drinking days (P = 0.002). Similar findings were obtained in relation to heavy drinking days (P = 0.007). Men showed a main effect of past-year stressful events on both drinking outcomes (P's < 0.001), but no main or moderator effects of genotype. In women, the S' allele moderated the impact of past-year life stressors on the frequency of drinking and heavy drinking days (P's < 0.001). In college students of African descent, past-year stressful events were associated with more frequent drinking and heavy drinking, an effect that was moderated by the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism. However, in contrast to the findings in EA students, in the current sample, 5-HTTLPR moderated the association only among women.
    American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B Neuropsychiatric Genetics 04/2012; 159B(5):484-90. · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Studies of the effects of alcohol on N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor function and gene expression have depended on rodent or postmortem human brain models. Ideally, the effects of alcohol might better be examined in living neural tissue derived from human subjects. In this study, we used new technologies to reprogram human subject-specific tissue into pluripotent cell colonies and generate human neural cultures as a model system to examine the molecular actions of alcohol. Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells were generated from skin biopsies taken from 7 individuals, 4 alcohol-dependent subjects, and 3 social drinkers. We differentiated the iPS cells into neural cultures and characterized them by immunocytochemistry using antibodies for the neuronal marker beta-III tubulin, glial marker s100β, and synaptic marker synpasin-1. Electrophysiology was performed to characterize the iPS-derived neurons and to measure the effects of acute alcohol exposure on the NMDA receptor response in chronically alcohol exposed and nonexposed neural cultures from 1 nonalcoholic. Finally, we examined changes in mRNA expression of the NMDA receptor subunit genes GRIN1, GRIN2A, GRIN2B, and GRIN2D after 7 days of alcohol exposure and after 24-hour withdrawal from chronic alcohol exposure. Immunocytochemistry revealed positive staining for neuronal, glial, and synaptic markers. iPS-derived neurons displayed spontaneous electrical properties and functional ionotropic receptors. Acute alcohol exposure significantly attenuated the NMDA response, an effect that was not observed after 7 days of chronic alcohol exposure. After 7 days of chronic alcohol exposure, there were significant increases in mRNA expression of GRIN1, GRIN2A, and GRIN2D in cultures derived from alcoholic subjects but not in cultures derived from nonalcoholics. These findings support the potential utility of human iPS-derived neural cultures as in vitro models to examine the molecular actions of alcohol on human neural cells.
    Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 04/2012; 36(10):1678-87. · 3.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) increase the risk for adult depression and substance dependence, possibly mediated by the corticotropin-releasing hormone type 1 receptor (CRHR1). In some studies, a three-SNP "T-A-T" haplotype in CRHR1, which encodes CRHR1, exerted a protective moderating effect on risk of depression in adults with ACEs. Other studies have shown a main or moderating effect of SNPs in CRHR1 on alcohol consumption. We tested the moderating effects of the three-SNP haplotype on lifetime risk of a major depressive episode (MDE) and alcohol dependence (AD) in 1,211 European-Americans (EAs) and 1,869 African-Americans (AAs), most of whom had a lifetime substance use disorder. There were no significant main or interaction effects of the TAT haplotype on AD. There was a significant interaction of ACE by TAT on risk of depression only in AA women (P = 0.005); each copy of the TAT haplotype reduced the odds of MDE by almost 40% (OR = 0.63). In AA women without an ACE and two TAT haplotypes, the risk of MDE was increased (OR = 1.51 for each copy). Our findings in relation to the TAT haplotype of CRHR1 extend those obtained in other populations to a largely substance-dependent one. The complex structure of CRHR1 may help to explain why some variants in the gene moderate the effects of an ACE only on depression risk while others moderate the effect of an ACE only on AD risk.
    American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B Neuropsychiatric Genetics 12/2011; 156B(8):960-8. · 3.23 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
275.25 Total Impact Points


  • 2008–2013
    • Yale-New Haven Hospital
      • Department of Laboratory Medicine
      New Haven, Connecticut, United States
  • 2012
    • University of Connecticut
      Storrs, Connecticut, United States
  • 2011–2012
    • University of Pennsylvania
      • Department of Psychiatry
      Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • 2010–2011
    • Arizona State University
      • Department of Psychology
      Mesa, AZ, United States
    • Duke University
      Durham, North Carolina, United States
  • 2005–2011
    • Yale University
      • Department of Psychiatry
      New Haven, CT, United States
  • 2003–2010
    • UConn Health Center
      • Department of Psychiatry
      Farmington, CT, United States
  • 2009
    • University of Otago
      • Department of Psychology
      Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
  • 2007
    • Harvard University
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States