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Link Between Alcohol Dependence and Chromosome 11

New research has found a link between alcohol dependence and a cluster of genes on chromosome 11 as a result of genome-wide study. Genetic and environmental factors affect susceptibility to alcohol dependence, and previous studies have identified genes that are associated with alcohol dependency.

The study, published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, examines all the genomes at once, instead of looking at a few genes at a time as previous studies have done. Corresponding author and Distinguished Professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine Howard J. Edenberg explained that previous studies have chosen this new approach is unbiased and could discover new genes that are associated with addiction.

David Goldman, section chief of Human Neurogenetics at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said that in this study, about one million gene variants were analyzed in about 1,400 unrelated participants. The researchers then followed up on the significant variants, looking at whether they were expressed in the brain, whether their patterns of expression were affected by alcohol, and more. The results show that a new genetic technology can be used to perform a genome-wide study, which wasn’t possible a few years ago.

For the study, researchers collected data from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA). They mostly studied 1,399 unrelated European Americans, and also looked at 485 African Americans. Then the researchers looked at the top 199 polymorphisms and examined whether the genes containing these polymorphisms were expressed in the brain or were altered by alcohol.

Edenberg said that identifying genes that might be related to alcoholism is an important step in finding new treatment methods. More studies will need to be conducted to determine which aspects of alcoholism the genes might impact and to examine their mechanisms. He added that the researchers will be working with other groups to duplicate their findings, looking at how the risk of alcoholism is related to variations in the genes and studying how genetic variations affect cells and tissues.

The researchers have also started a large study of adolescents and young adults, looking at how genetic variations affect alcoholism and alcohol-related disorders.

Source: Science Daily, Genome-Wide Study of Alcohol Dependence Points to Chromosome 11, March 8, 2010

Posted on March 8th, 2010

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