New NIH study reveals shared genetic markers underlying substance use disorders National Institute on Drug Abuse NIDA

And if you have no genes for alcoholism whatsoever, you aren’t totally off the hook. Ethanol is metabolized largely in the liver by alcohol dehydrogenases (ADH) to the toxic acetaldehyde which is then converted to acetate by aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH), primarily by the mitochondrial enzyme ALDH2. The class I ADH enzymes encoded by the ADH1A, ADH1B and ADH1C genes contribute about 70% of the total ethanol oxidizing capacity, and the class II enzyme encoded by ADH4 contributes about 30% [19]. An international team of researchers analyzed Beethoven’s DNA to investigate his genetic musical predisposition, an ability closely related to musicality, by using sequences from a 2023 study in which the composer’s genetic material was extracted from strands of his hair. Although these studies suggest a strong genetic basis for unfaithful behavior, they do not suggest that our behavior is entirely determined by our genes, rather they suggest that a portion of the variation in unfaithful behavior may be attributed to genetic influences.

  • In other words, psychology and home environment likely have a significant impact on how alcoholism is passed down through families.
  • To date, GWAS have
    focused on common variants, with allele frequencies of 5% or higher.

Analysis of such electrophysiological data may reveal a subset of genes that affect these quantitative, biological phenotypes related to alcoholism (Porjesz et al. 1998, 2002). One component of an ERP is a brain wave called P300, which typically Genetics of Alcoholism occurs 300 milliseconds after a stimulus. Previous studies had found that a reduced amplitude of the P300 wave is a heritable phenotype that correlates with alcohol dependence and other psychiatric disorders (Porjesz et al. 1998).

Functional significance of GWAS variants

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a chronic psychiatric condition characterized by drinking patterns that lead to detrimental emotional, physical, and social outcomes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that alcohol use contributes to approximately 88,000 deaths annually in the United States (Stahre et al., 2014), reflecting high morbidity and mortality. To diagnose individuals with AUD, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (Mizokawa et al., 2013) utilizes 11 criteria pertaining to excessive alcohol use, alcohol abuse, and alcohol dependence.

Recent efforts in the search for AUD susceptibility genes will be reviewed in this article. Addiction is thought to have a heritable component—meaning that a person’s genetic makeup can influence their risk of developing conditions such as an alcohol use disorder. For example, it has already provided a test of new methods for genetic analysis, as presented at the Genetic Analysis Workshop 11 (Begleiter et al. 1999). In addition, COGA researchers are currently re-interviewing participants as part of a 5-year followup. This strategy will allow the investigators to increase the reliability of the data and to refine the phenotypes, which in turn will enhance the power of the genetic analyses. Neuroscience offers a window into the brain’s workings, shedding light on why some individuals might be more prone to alcohol misuse.

Whole genome sequencing

The strongest and most consistent findings for GWAS for AUD are for alcohol metabolizing genes, as in a recent study in an East Asian (Korean) sample of alcoholics in which ALDH2 and ADH1B showed up as GWAS signals with genome-wide significance [68]. Subsequent analysis showed that AUTS2 was implicated in alcohol consumption in mice and alcohol sensitivity in drosophila [69]. This gene plays a role in neurodevelopment, at least in zebrafish and mice [70].

is alcoholism a genetic trait

Among those abusing alcohol, people who are genetically predisposed to alcoholism have a higher risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. Although people can inherit alcoholic tendencies, the development of an alcohol use disorder is also dependent on social and environmental factors. Some who have inherited genes making them susceptible to alcoholism are responsible drinkers or never take a drink in their life. Over the past few years numerous whole genome linkage studies have been performed in which the inheritance of phenotypes and genetic markers is followed in families [12,40].

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