The genetics of alcoholism
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Heritability estimates for alcoholism range from 50% to 60%, pointing out the importance of genetic and environmental factors in its etiology. This review highlights recent advances in translational work investigating genetic influences on alcoholism. We focus on genetic research involving corticotropin-releasing factor, glutamatergic, and opioidergic systems. Variation in the CRF1 receptor gene has been shown to moderate stress-induced alcohol drinking (gene-environment interaction) in animals, and this finding was recently extended to humans. Also, the hyperglutamatergic state, first observed during withdrawal from chronic alcohol exposure in animal models, is associated with aversive and dysphoric states in alcoholics. Pharmacogenetic studies of naltrexone efficacy are in the clinical stages, and recent studies confirmed a differential response dependent on the μ-opioid receptor genotype. Such advances will be essential for the effective treatment of alcoholism in the future.
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- The genetics of alcoholism
Current Psychiatry Reports
Volume 11, Issue 5 , pp 364-369
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