A national swedish twin-sibling study of alcohol use disorders

Kenneth S. Kendler, Mirnabi Pirouzifard, Sara Lönn, Alexis C. Edwards, Hermine H. Maes, Paul Lichtenstein, Jan Sundquist, Kristina Sundquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The relationship between the genetic and environmental risk factors for alcohol use disorders (AUD) detected in Swedish medical, pharmacy, and criminal registries has not been hitherto examined. Prior twin studies have varied with regard to the detection of shared environmental effects and sex differences in the etiology of AUD. In this report, structural equation modeling in OpenMx was applied to (1) the three types of alcohol registration in a population-based sample of male-male twins and reared-together full and half siblings (total 208,810 pairs), and (2) AUD, as a single diagnosis, in male-male, female-female, and opposite-sex (OS) twins and reared-together full and half siblings (total 787,916 pairs). An independent pathway model fit best to the three forms of registration and indicated that between 70% and 92% of the genetic and 63% and 98% of the shared environmental effects were shared in common with the remainder unique to each form of AUD registration. Criminal registration had the largest proportion of unique genetic and environmental factors. The best fit model for AUD estimated the heritability to be 22% and 57%, respectively, in females and males. Both shared (12% vs. 6%) and special twin environment (29% vs. 2%) were substantially more important in females versus males. In conclusion, AUD ascertained from medical, pharmacy, and criminal Swedish registries largely share the same genetic and environmental risk factors. Large sex differences in the etiology of AUD were seen in this sample, with substantially stronger familial environmental and weaker genetic effects in females versus males.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-437
Number of pages8
JournalTwin Research and Human Genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • alcohol use disorder
  • registries
  • sex effects
  • siblings
  • twins


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