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Researchers find three chromosomal areas with links to alcoholism vulnerability

  • Both the environment and genetics play a role in a person's risk for alcoholism.
  • Prior research has shown that genetics significantly influence a person's response to alcohol.
  • New research has identified three chromosomal regions in the human genome that appear to hold genes that affect a person's low level of response to alcohol.

Both environmental and genetic factors are involved in the risk for alcohol dependence. Genetically influenced characteristics are numerous, and include a low level of response (LR) to alcohol. A low LR to alcohol is reflected by relatively little effect at a given blood alcohol concentration, or through a self-report of numerous drinks required for specific alcohol effects. A study in the July issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research has identified three chromosomal regions in the human genome that appear to hold genes that affect low LR to alcohol.

"Prior research has shown that a significant proportion of the risk for having a low response to alcohol is genetic," said Kirk C. Wilhelmsen, principal investigator at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center and first author of the study. "In other words, most of what accounts for the variation among us in terms of our response to alcohol probably comes from genes. But the research doesn't tell us how many genes are involved, or how the genes work to cause this effect."

"All behavior, thinking and feeling are controlled by the actions of molecules in the brain," added Ivan Diamond, professor and Vice Chairman of the department of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. "Brain molecules can be changed by experiences in our environment, diseases, drugs and genes. Genes control the proteins which regulate the molecules that carry out all of the functions in the brain. If we could identify genes that confer risk for alcoholism or allow alcoholism to develop, then we could begin to understand whic
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14-Jul-2003


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