The factor structure of the externalizing spectrum in adolescence and the role of GABRA2

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The present study tested the factor structure of the externalizing disorders (e.g. attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder (SE), and substance experimentation (SE) ) in adolescence. In addition, this study

The present study tested the factor structure of the externalizing disorders (e.g. attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder (SE), and substance experimentation (SE) ) in adolescence. In addition, this study tested the influence of the GABRA2 gene on the factors of the externalizing spectrum. Confirmatory factor analyses were used to test the factor structure of the externalizing spectrum. Specifically, three competing alternate confirmatory factor analytic models were tested: a one-factor model where all disorders loaded onto a single externalizing factor, a two-factor model where CD and SE loaded onto one factor and ADHD loaded onto another, and a three-factor model, where all three disorders loaded onto separate factors. Structural equation modeling was used to test the effect of a GABRA2 SNP, rs279858, on the factors of the externalizing spectrum. Analyses revealed that a three-factor model of externalizing disorders with correlated factors fit the data best. Additionally, GABRA2 had a significant effect on the SE factor in adolescence, but not on the CD or ADHD factors. These findings demonstrate that the externalizing disorders in adolescence share commonalities but also have separate sources of systematic variance. Furthermore, biological mechanisms may act as a unique etiological factor in the development of adolescent substance experimentation.