This study was part of the first author's doctoral dissertation at Michigan State University. Manuscript preparation and revisions were completed while a postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Drug Abuse Research Center.
Serotonergic Function, Behavioral Disinhibition, and Negative Affect in Children of Alcoholics: The Moderating Effects of Puberty
Article first published online: 30 MAY 2006
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume 24, Issue 7, pages 972–979, July 2000
How to Cite
Twitchell, G. R., Hanna, G. L., Cook, E. H., Fitzgerald, H. E. and Zucker, R. A. (2000), Serotonergic Function, Behavioral Disinhibition, and Negative Affect in Children of Alcoholics: The Moderating Effects of Puberty. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 24: 972–979. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2000.tb04639.x
This research was supported by Grant 2RO1 AA07065 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (to R.A.Z. and H.E.F.), a Biomedical Research Grant from Michigan State University, pilot fund support from the University of Michigan Alcohol Research Center, and a National Institute of Drug Abuse Postdoctoral Training Fellowship to UCLA Drug Abuse Research Center (DA07272).
- Issue published online: 30 MAY 2006
- Article first published online: 30 MAY 2006
- Received for publication October 8, 1999; accepted March 2, 2000
- Whole Blood Serotonin (5-HT);
- Behavioral Disinhibition;
- Negative Affect;
- Children of Alcoholics;
- Biological Markers
Background: Serotonergic (5-HT) dysfunction has been implicated in both behavioral disinhibition and negative affect in adults. Although our group's previous work found decreased whole blood 5-HT in high versus low behavior problem children of alcoholics, some child/adolescent studies report conflicting results, and 5-HTs role in negative affect has been largely unexamined. Age-related developmental factors may play a role in these relationships.
Methods: This report is from an ongoing prospective study of the development of risk for alcohol abuse/dependence and other problematic outcomes in a sample of families subtyped by father's alcoholism classification. The present study extends previous work and examines relationships between whole blood 5-HT and both child behavioral disinhibition (an aggression index from the Child Behavior Checklist) and negative affect (Child Behavior Checklist Anxious/Depressed scale) in offspring from 47 families (N= 45 boys and 17 girls; mean age = 10.88 ± 2.03 yr).
Results: The most important finding was that puberty moderated relationships between 5-HT and both behavioral disinhibition and negative affect with a relationship for pubescent children (n= 14, r= -0.54, p= 0.05;r= -0.57,p= 0.04, respectively) but no relationship for prepubescent children (n= 48,r= 0.05, p= 0.75; r= -0.15,p= 0.31, respectively).
Conclusions: The moderating effects of puberty may help clarify inconsistencies in child/adolescent literature. Furthermore, there appears to be a relationship between 5-HT and negative affect which parallels that between 5-HT and behavioral disinhibition. Pubertal status may be an important variable to evaluate as a moderator in relation to the developmental context of the role 5-HT dysfunction may play in various models of behavior related to alcoholism over the early life course.