Breaking News
February 20, 2019 - Researchers unlock plant’s secret of producing specialized metabolites
February 20, 2019 - Newly released national framework identifies obstacles to improving EMS systems
February 20, 2019 - Exercise can shift human body clock depending on time when people work out
February 20, 2019 - Female adolescent blood donors more likely to have iron deficiency and related anemia
February 20, 2019 - Rubicon level linked to inhibition of autophagic process
February 20, 2019 - Researchers find potential therapeutic strategy to treat Alzheimer’s
February 20, 2019 - New forms of older anti-cancer agent appear to enhance immune response to fight melanoma
February 20, 2019 - Health Tip: Eat Less Saturated Fat
February 20, 2019 - Sleeping in contact lenses puts you at risk of dangerous infection
February 20, 2019 - “We should study that!”: How a nurse-scientist found her passion
February 20, 2019 - Cervical microbiome may influence HPV infection more than previously thought
February 20, 2019 - Sausage mislabeling in Canada is down, new study finds
February 20, 2019 - Study shows blood pressure benefits of morning exercise for older overweight/obese adults
February 20, 2019 - New screening method could catch organ rejection much earlier without a biopsy needle
February 20, 2019 - Study may have important implications for refining parenting during child’s adolescence
February 20, 2019 - Study sheds new light on how antibiotic resistance genes are transferred between bacteria
February 20, 2019 - Chronic Wasting Disease may soon spread to humans, warns CDC
February 20, 2019 - Scientists identify new genetic causes linked to abnormal pregnancies and miscarriages
February 20, 2019 - Using LyoSpeed technology to avoid residual solvent when drying HPLC fractions
February 20, 2019 - New screening tool more likely to identify sexual and labor exploitation of youth
February 20, 2019 - Newly licensed nurses work for long hours, also have a second paid job
February 20, 2019 - Physicists identify simple mechanism used by deadly bacteria to fend off antibiotics
February 20, 2019 - FDA Grants Priority Review to Genentech’s Personalized Medicine Entrectinib
February 20, 2019 - Exposure to chemicals before and after birth is associated with a decrease in lung function
February 20, 2019 - Neuroscientists reveal that simple brain region can guide complex feats of mental activity
February 20, 2019 - Study finds new link between food allergies and multiple sclerosis
February 20, 2019 - First gene therapy operation for macular degeneration is a success
February 20, 2019 - Physicians graduated outside the U.S. offer better care for Medicare patients with complex needs
February 20, 2019 - Study shows therapeutic potential of VEGF-A mRNA for regenerative angiogenesis in humans
February 20, 2019 - FDA Approves Keytruda (pembrolizumab) for the Adjuvant Treatment of Patients with Melanoma with Involvement of Lymph Node(s) Following Complete Resection
February 20, 2019 - Study identifies brain cells that modulate behavioral response to threats
February 20, 2019 - Researchers take closer look at how viruses bind cells and cause infection
February 20, 2019 - Newly developed gene therapy helps decelerate aging process
February 20, 2019 - Study suggests new treatment strategy for deadly brain cancer
February 20, 2019 - Scientists develop unique hybrid implant that imitates bone structure
February 20, 2019 - Push-ups can be tailored to meet specific needs of individuals
February 20, 2019 - Early-career job loss has long term health implications
February 20, 2019 - CVD Does Not Modify Depression-Mortality Link in Elderly
February 20, 2019 - Electrical activity early in fruit flies’ brain development could shed light on how neurons wire the brain
February 20, 2019 - Machine learning technique helps predict which asthma patients respond to corticosteroid therapy
February 20, 2019 - Self-reported sleep duration is a useful tool to measure sleep in children, study suggests
February 20, 2019 - T-cells play key role in how the body fights follicular lymphoma
February 20, 2019 - Study shows how 3D organization of genetic material helps perpetuate the species
February 20, 2019 - Researchers engineer stem cell with ‘suicide genes’ to induce cell death in all but beta cells
February 20, 2019 - Study reveals major sex differences in management of cardiovascular risk factors among U.S. adults
February 20, 2019 - Health Tip: Get Your Child to School on Time
February 20, 2019 - Shortcut strategy for screening compounds with clinical potentials for drug development
February 20, 2019 - Common acid reflux drugs tied to elevated risk for kidney disease
February 20, 2019 - Microbiome could be culprit when good drugs do harm
February 20, 2019 - Prenatal exposure to forest fires causes stunted growth in children
February 20, 2019 - Gene therapy restores hearing in mice with congenital genetic deafness
February 20, 2019 - First molecular test predicts treatment response for kidney cancer
February 20, 2019 - New method for improved visualization of single-cell RNA- sequencing data
February 20, 2019 - Researchers capture altered brain activity patterns of Parkinson’s in mice
February 20, 2019 - A possible blood test for detecting Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms show
February 20, 2019 - Primary care physicians associated with longevity, new research finds
February 19, 2019 - New study identifies many key lessons to establish sanctioned safe consumption sites
February 19, 2019 - Single CRISPR treatment can safely and stably correct genetic disease
February 19, 2019 - Multinational initiative to study familial primary distal renal tubular acidosis
February 19, 2019 - Breakthrough study highlights the promise of cell therapies for muscular dystrophy
February 19, 2019 - Subsymptom Threshold Exercise Speeds Concussion Recovery
February 19, 2019 - Midline venous catheters – infants: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
February 19, 2019 - Searching for side effects
February 19, 2019 - Humanity is all right, probably, although human extinction remains quite possible, researcher says
February 19, 2019 - Having Anesthesia Once as a Baby Does Not Cause Learning Disabilities, New Research Shows
February 19, 2019 - Anti-cancer immunotherapy could be used to fight HIV
February 19, 2019 - Customized Micropatterning for Improved Physiological Relevance
February 19, 2019 - Unique gene therapy approach paves new way to tackle rare, inherited diseases
February 19, 2019 - Activating gene that helps excite neurons reverses depression in male mice
February 19, 2019 - Science Puzzling Out Differences in Gut Bacteria Around the World
February 19, 2019 - Cells that destroy the intestine
February 19, 2019 - On recovery, vulnerability and ritual: An exhibit in white
February 19, 2019 - Scientific Duo Gets Back To Basics To Make Childbirth Safer
February 19, 2019 - COPD patients need more support when understanding new chest symptoms
February 19, 2019 - Using light-based method for production of pharmaceutical molecules
February 19, 2019 - Scientists find link between inflammation and cancer
February 19, 2019 - The High Cost Of Sex: Insurers Often Don’t Pay For Drugs To Treat Problems
February 19, 2019 - Hearing impairment associated with accelerated cognitive decline with age
February 19, 2019 - Researchers identify multiple genetic variants associated with body fat distribution
February 19, 2019 - Influenza and common cold are completely different diseases, study shows
Study finds genetic links between alcohol dependence and psychiatric disorders

Study finds genetic links between alcohol dependence and psychiatric disorders

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

In the largest study of genetic factors linked to alcohol dependence, an international team of researchers identified a gene known to affect risk, and they determined that many other genes also contribute to risk for alcohol dependence to a lesser degree. In addition, the study linked genetic factors associated with alcohol dependence to other psychiatric disorders, such as depression, and showed that genetic factors associated with typical drinking sometimes are different from those associated with alcohol dependence.

The new analysis, from the Substance Use Disorders working group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, adds to the current understanding of alcohol dependence, a complex disorder influenced by genes, environment and their interactions.

The gene that was conclusively associated with risk of alcohol dependence regulates how quickly the body metabolizes alcohol. The effects of other genes weren’t big enough to reach statistical significance individually — even though this study involved more than 50,000 people — but their combined effects were significant.

The goal of the research is to better understand how genes may contribute to alcohol problems as a way to develop improved and more personalized treatments.

The study is published online Nov. 26 in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

“The current estimate is that one in eight Americans suffers from alcohol dependence,” said senior author Arpana Agrawal, PhD, a professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “And the gene we identified has a protective effect, but by no means is it the only thing affecting risk of alcohol dependence. We know environmental factors also play a role. We also think the genetic susceptibility to alcohol dependence stems from the small, cumulative effects of a very large number of variants across the genome.”

The analysis compared genetic variants from nearly 15,000 individuals diagnosed with alcohol dependence to nearly 38,000 people who did not have that diagnosis.

To gather such a large sample, Agrawal — with colleagues from the Yale University School of Medicine, the Indiana University School of Medicine, the Broad Institute, and other centers around the world — analyzed data from 28 genetic studies of alcoholism in eight countries. But the researchers believe even larger studies will be needed in the future because genetic studies of other psychiatric disorders have required DNA from between 40,000 and 100,000 patients to allow researchers to isolate dozens of gene variants related to conditions such as schizophrenia and depression.

“As we analyze additional alcohol-dependent individuals, we should be able to find additional genomic regions affecting risk for alcohol dependence,” said first author Raymond Walters, of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. “We know there are other DNA regions that have small effects on risk, but it’s going to take a large increase in our sample size before we can robustly identify those variants.”

The one gene that did stand out, called ADH1B, regulates how the body converts alcohol to a substance called acetaldehyde. Variants in the gene speed the conversion to acetaldehyde, an unpleasant compound, and that has a protective effect, making people less likely to drink heavily or become alcoholics. A current drug, Disulfuram (Antabuse) works on the same metabolic processes as the gene variants identified in this study.

The researchers found that the genetic risk factors related to alcohol dependence also were linked to risk for other psychiatric disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia, ADHD and the use of cigarettes and marijuana. They plan to continue investigating those links between genetic susceptibility to alcohol dependence and risk for other types of psychiatric illness.

“There were genetic links both to other psychiatric disorders, such as depression, and to use of cigarettes and other drugs like cannabis,” said Joel Gelernter, MD, of Yale University School of Medicine. “As we study larger numbers of people, we expect to be able to determine at least to some extent how much of this correlation, or shared risk, is attributable to alcoholism, and how much may be the consequence of these other disorders.”

A key aspect of the new study is that it included genetic data from people of European (46,568) and African (6,280) ancestry. Although the same ADH1B gene was linked to alcoholism risk both in people of European ancestry and African ancestry, the researchers found that different variants in the gene altered risk in the two populations. Other research has revealed that the same variation in the same gene as occurs in Europeans also influences risk in people of Asian descent, but that data was not included in this study.

“There have been very large genetic studies of Europeans, but not as much research in African populations to try to understand what genetic factors underlie risk for alcoholism,” said Howard J. Edenberg, PhD, of Indiana University School of Medicine. “In the future, we need to study much larger numbers of people from non-European populations because we don’t know as much about genetic factors that affect their risk. As our study showed, these factors can differ from population to population.”

The researchers also found that the genetic factors related to simply drinking alcohol were a little different from the genetic factors that contributed to alcohol dependence. In other words, at least at the genetic level, there’s a difference between simply drinking alcohol, even large amounts of alcohol, and becoming dependent on it.

“People suffering from alcohol dependence generally drink a great deal, but they also experience other problems related to their drinking, like losing control over when and how much they drink,” Agrawal explained. “I think it’s likely that as the sample sizes of our studies increase, we may find new DNA variants related to these problematic aspects of alcohol dependence but possibly not related to typical drinking.”

She said those larger samples of individuals with and without a diagnosis of alcohol dependence will be key to future discoveries about genetic contributions to alcoholism.

“The risk conferred by the ADH1B gene is one of the strongest single-gene effects seen in people with a psychiatric illness, but overall, it explains only a small proportion of the risk,” Agrawal said. “Many additional gene variants are making small contributions to alcoholism risk, but to find them, we’ll need to study more people.”

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles