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Genetic Markers Identified for Alcohol Response in UCSF Gallo Study
Date:12/9/2008

es have indicated shared genetic factors behind alcohol and nicotine dependence and also have connected chromosome 15 with alcohol use disorders, which made those sites a logical place to start searching for a genetic basis for alcohol response, White said.

The research determined the genetic makeup, or genotype, of 313 Caucasian siblings from the San Diego Sibling Pair Project and analyzed the association of the two sentinel SNPs associated with nicotine dependence, with three measures of the level of response. A low level of response reflects an ability to consume greater amounts of alcohol before feeling the effects. Additional genotyping for verification and expansion of the study resulted in a total of 367 genotyped white siblings. The findings confirmed that the level of response to alcohol has a genetic component, according to the paper.

This level of response to alcohol intake - including physical responses such as body swaying and subjective feelings as measured on the Subjective High Assessment Scale - serves as an "intermediate phenotype" that is highly reproducible in individuals and can be a means of investigating the genetic factors that affect alcohol abuse, the researchers said.

"In many complex psychiatric and medical conditions, such as substance abuse, there are multiple genetic and environmental components involved, making it very difficult to firmly identify the genetic component," White said. "In those situations, intermediate phenotypes are often more closely correlated with the underlying biology than any other factor and are invaluable research aids."

The most significant association in this study was found on the chromosome 15 SNP labeled RS1051730, with the response being body sway resulting from a 3-drink challenge at 10:00 am, researchers said.

Several other genes surrounding this marker could be responsible for the variation in level of response. However, the a
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