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Examining the serotonin transporter gene and family function

The embargo on this release has changed since it originally posted.
  • Alcohol researchers already know that genetic and environmental factors influence drinking.
  • New research examines what impact a polymorphism of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene and family relations may have on adolescent drinking.
  • Both a variant of the 5-HTT gene and poor family relations, as well as interactions between these two variables, are significantly related to heavy alcohol consumption among adolescents.

Delinquency, violence, and/or drug abuse are known to be influenced by the way that psychosocial, situational, and hereditary factors interact. Only recently have researchers begun to examine the effects that specific genotypes and psychosocial factors may have on behavior. A study in the April issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research looks at what impact interactions between a polymorphism of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene and family relations may have on adolescent drinking.

"Hereditary factors can explain quite a lot of the variance in alcohol consumption," said Kent W. Nilsson, a researcher at the Centre for Clinical Research at Uppsala University in Sweden and corresponding author for the study. "Likewise, environmental factors can have a fairly high impact on alcohol consumption. In addition, other studies have shown that hereditary risks may be amplified in an unfavourable environment, and that different, and sometimes contradicting, results of gene associations may be explained by different environmental/background factors of the study participants."

"Most complex behavioral disorders such as alcoholism have a heritability in the range of 40 to 60 percent, so we know there must be an important influence of life experience as well, and potential for interactions," said Markus Heilig, clinical director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. "The problem is that
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14-Apr-2005


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