Genes Contributing to the Development of Alcoholism: An Overview Alcohol Research: Current Reviews

Family studies have consistently demonstrated that there is a substantial
genetic contribution to alcohol dependence. Over the past two decades, several genes
underlying susceptibility have been identified. Extensive study of the alcohol
metabolizing genes has demonstrated their important role in disease risk.

Yet studies have shown that certain combinations of genes have a strong relationship to alcoholism. It’s difficult to determine the precise contribution of gene and environmental interactions in alcohol use disorders. However, the environment tends to have a stronger influence on the development of alcohol and drug abuse than genetics.

  1. In the context of AUD, GCTA could be applied to the subsets of previously discussed SNPs that reached genome-wide significance and were correlated with alcohol-dependent phenotypes.
  2. According to a review from 2016, genes that promote alcohol metabolism and the production of enzymes, such as alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase, can be protective against AUD.
  3. Other mutants include slowpoke, which encodes a large-conductance calcium-activated potassium channel (Cowmeadow et al. 2005, 2006), and the transcription factors hangover (Scholz et al. 2005) and dLmo/Beadex.
  4. Inpiduals from families with an annual household income of more than $75,000 are more likely to become an alcoholic than those with lower means.
  5. The
    difficulties of genetic studies are compounded by environmental heterogeneity in
    access to alcohol and social norms related to drinking.

Analyses of RNA expression in lymphoblastoid cell lines suggested that SNPs
within this region on chromosome 5 had cis-acting regulatory
effects on the expression of HTR1A or
IPO11. While you cannot inherit alcoholism in the same way you inherit physical traits like eye color, there is a genetic component that can influence your susceptibility to developing alcohol use disorder. If your parents or close family members have a history of alcoholism, you might have a higher risk due to shared genetic vulnerabilities. However, inheriting alcoholism is not as straightforward as inheriting a specific trait.

Alcohol use disorder used to be referred to as alcoholism, alcohol addiction, or alcohol abuse. This condition affects several brain systems, which can cause some people to form a physical dependency on alcohol. Genetic disorders are diagnosable conditions directly caused by genetic mutations that are inherited or occur later in life from environmental exposure. What this means for family members of alcoholics is that you are not necessarily going to misuse alcohol yourself. Factors like your environment and ability to handle situations triggering dependency are just as important as genetics. These are things that we can remain mindful of as we continue to develop an understanding of alcoholism on a personal basis.

The unpleasant symptoms of drinking “protect” them from consuming too much alcohol. Get professional help from an addiction and mental health counselor from BetterHelp via phone, video, or live-chat. This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

Analyzing 3 billion DNA base pairs across 70 animals, they identified genes linked to drinking behaviors. Single gene studies in mice have implicated more than 70 candidate genes in alcohol-related phenotypes (Crabbe et al. 2006). Majority of genomic data for large alcohol consumption and AUD meta-analysis was either from UKBiobank or from Million Veterans Project. Several other cohorts from dbGAP also contributed to large sample size of alcohol consumption GWAS by Liu et al, 2019. Genome-wide data on 14,904 DSM-IV diagnosed AD individuals and 37,944 controls from 28 case/control and family-based studies were meta-analyzed for PGC’s AD GWAS.

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According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 5.6% of adults in the United States were living with alcohol use disorder in 2019. Having a close family relative, such as a parent, can account for up to 60% of your risk of developing AUD. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a diagnosis once referred to as “alcoholism.” It’s a condition characterized by patterns of excessive alcohol misuse despite negative consequences and are alcoholism and drug addiction disabilities major distress in important areas of daily function. The sensitive mice tend to lose their inhibitions and pass out rather quickly, earning them the nickname “long sleepers.” “Short sleepers” are mice that are genetically less sensitive to alcohol. They seem to lose fewer inhibitions and tolerate alcohol for longer before they pass out. But people in high-stress work environments are more likely to consume alcohol heavily than those who don’t.

Are You At Risk Of Becoming An Alcoholic?

Because the diagnosis of an AUD requires the presence of a set of
symptoms from a checklist, there are many different ways one could meet the
criteria. There are 35 different ways one could pick 3 criteria from 7 (DSM-IV
alcohol dependence) and 330 ways to pick 4 from 11 (DSM-5 severe AUD). The clinical
heterogeneity likely reflects the genetic heterogeneity of the disease.

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With recent advances in technology, the most promising results stem from recent GWAS, which have helped to identify new variants in the genetics of AUD. Among the variants identified, the most significant SNPs remain in the alcohol metabolism enzyme genes, ADH and ALDH. Importantly, the prevalence of the various isoforms of ADH and ALDH differs among ethnicities and populations. Therefore, lower alcohol consumption in certain populations, as a result of the protective effect of alcohol metabolism SNPs, may be due to gene-environment interactions. A changing definition of the heterogeneous phenotype of AUD may also pose a challenge to identifying genetic variants through GWAS.

How much of addiction is genetic?

Repeated exposure to ethanol induces tolerance in flies, similar to humans (Scholz et al. 2000). An experiment using rats at Linköping University in Sweden discovered that those with reduced expression of the gene GAT-3 become addicted to alcohol. Furthermore, in collaboration with a co-author from the University of Texas, the researchers took brain samples of deceased people who suffered from alcohol use disorder. Today, studies have shown that genes could predispose a person to alcohol dependence. Research like this could help identify people who have a higher risk of misusing alcohol so it can be mitigated and treated appropriately. Today, studies have demonstrated that genes could predispose a person to alcohol dependence.

Genetic Predisposition For AUD

Furthermore, AUD frequently co-occurs with other psychiatric disorders, including mood and anxiety disorders (Regier et al., 1990), post-traumatic stress disorder (Sampson et al., 2015), and other substance use disorders (Kessler et al., 1997). These data highlight the heterogeneity of AUD and overlap with other psychiatric disorder that often also have strong genetic heritability estimates. In this review, we provide an overview of genetic studies on AUD, including twin studies, linkage studies, candidate gene studies, and genome-wide association studies (GWAS). The gene variations that result in things like nausea, headaches, and skin flushing with alcohol consumption may be more common in those of Asian or Jewish descent. These groups typically have a lower risk of developing alcohol use disorder compared to other populations. Resurgence Behavioral Health acknowledges that genetics indeed play a significant role in the predisposition to alcoholism.

Genetics of Alcohol Use Disorder: A Review

Given this genetic similarity, if heredity plays a significant role in alcoholism, identical twins should exhibit a pronounced concordance rate. In genetics, the concordance rate signifies the likelihood of two individuals with 11 ways to curb your drinking similar genes manifesting the same condition. Awareness of the need for large sample sizes for GWAS has resulted in the formation of large scale collaborations for sharing data, such as the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium [82].

However, while researchers have made great strides in associating certain variations of genes with AUD, the reality is that genetics, heredity, behavior, and addiction are extremely complex and often mysterious subjects. Hereditary predisposition to AUD is alcohol addiction signs symptoms one of the risk factors identified by these results. This is an illustration of an Illumina GoldenGate array that was custom designed to include 1350 haplotype tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within 127 stress- and addictions-related genes.