Predictive validity of genome-wide polygenic scores for alcohol use from adolescence to young adulthood

Radhika Kandaswamy*, Andrea Allegrini, Robert Plomin, Sophie von Stumm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Adolescence is a critical period for experimenting with alcohol, and these early experiences have long-term influences on alcohol-related behaviours throughout adulthood. This study examined the utility of genome-wide polygenic scores (GPS) for predicting alcohol use during adolescence and young adulthood. Methods: We used GPS based on the Genome-wide association study and Sequencing Consortium of Alcohol and Nicotine use (GSCAN) study on drinks per week to predict alcohol use in a longitudinal, UK-representative sample of unrelated adolescents aged 16 through to 22 years (Nmax = 3390). Results: At age 16, the GSCAN GPS predicted variance in alcohol consumption on a typical day (0.58 %), intake frequency (0.89 %), and hazardous drinking (i.e. ≥6 units at one occasion) (1.07 %). At age 22, the predictive power of the GPS had increased, explaining variance in alcohol consumption (0.61 %), intake frequency (1.69 %), and hazardous drinking (1.19 %). Conclusions: The predictive validity of GPS for phenotypic alcohol use was evident in adolescence and increased in young adulthood. The findings suggest that GPS, which are available from birth, may be potentially useful for identifying individuals at risk for harmful and hazardous alcohol use. However, because the overall effect sizes were small, the utility of the GPS that are currently available is limited for the prediction of individual-level alcohol use.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108480
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • Adolescence
  • Alcohol intake frequency
  • Alcohol use
  • Hazardous drinking
  • Polygenic score
  • TEDS


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