Genetic vulnerability to schizophrenia is associated with cannabis use patterns during adolescence

Marieke Hiemstra*, Stefanie A. Nelemans, Susan Branje, Kristel R. van Eijk, Jouke Jan Hottenga, Christiaan H. Vinkers, Pol van Lier, Wim Meeus, Marco P. Boks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Previously reported comorbidity between schizophrenia and substance use may be explained by shared underlying risk factors, such as genetic background. The aim of the present longitudinal study was to investigate how a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia was associated with patterns of substance use (cannabis use, smoking, alcohol use) during adolescence (comparing ages 13–16 with 16–20 years). Method: Using piecewise latent growth curve modelling in a longitudinal adolescent cohort (RADAR-Y study, N = 372), we analyzed the association of polygenic risk scores for schizophrenia (PRS; p-value thresholds (pt) < 5e-8 to pt < 0.5) with increase in substance use over the years, including stratified analyses for gender. Significance thresholds were set to adjust for multiple testing using Bonferroni at p ≤ 0.001. Results: High schizophrenia vulnerability was associated with a stronger increase in cannabis use at age 16–20 (PRS thresholds pt < 5e-5 and pt < 5e-4; pt < 5e-6 was marginally significant), whereas more lenient PRS thresholds (PRS thresholds pt < 5e-3 to pt < 0.5) showed the reverse association. For smoking and alcohol, no clear relations were found. Conclusions: In conclusion, our findings support a relation between genetic risk to schizophrenia and prospective cannabis use patterns during adolescence. In contrast, no relation between alcohol and smoking was established.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-150
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Early online date30 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


This work was supported by a Dynamics of Youth grant from the University Utrecht, the Netherlands. Data from the Research on Adolescent Development and Relationships (RADAR) study were used. RADAR has been financially supported by main grants from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (GB-MAGW 480-03-005, GB-MAGW 480-08-006), the Stichting Achmea Slachtoffer en Samenleving (SASS), a grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research to the Consortium Individual Development (CID; 024.001.003), and various other grants from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, the VU University Amsterdam, and Utrecht University. The funding sources had no further role in study design, the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, the writing of the report, or in the decision to submit the paper for publication.

FundersFunder number
Stichting Achmea Slachtoffer en Samenleving024.001.003
University Utrecht
Universiteit Utrecht
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk OnderzoekGB-MAGW 480-03-005, GB-MAGW 480-08-006


    • Adolescence
    • Alcohol use
    • Cannabis use
    • Genetic
    • Polygenic risk score
    • Schizophrenia
    • Smoking
    • Substance use


    Dive into the research topics of 'Genetic vulnerability to schizophrenia is associated with cannabis use patterns during adolescence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this