Original Investigation


, Volume 201, Issue 4, pp 611-618

First online:

A mu opioid receptor gene polymorphism (A118G) and naltrexone treatment response in adherent Korean alcohol-dependent patients

  • Sung-Gon KimAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Pusan National University Email author 
  • , Cheol-Min KimAffiliated withHaein Hospital
  • , Sam-Wook ChoiAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Ulsan
  • , Young-Myo JaeAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Bongseng Memorial Hospital
  • , Hae-Gook LeeAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, The Catholic University
  • , Bong-Ki SonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Hallym University Medical Center, Chuncheon Sacred Heart Hospital
  • , Jeong-Gee KimAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Maryknoll General Hospital
  • , Young-Sung ChoiAffiliated withSt. Andrew’s Neuropsychiatric Hospital
  • , Han-Oh KimAffiliated withKeyo Medical Foundation, Keyo Hospital
    • , Seong-Yeon KimAffiliated withDivision of Management Information Science, Dong-A University
    • , David W. OslinAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia VA Medical Center and VISN 4 MIRECC

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Previous studies have demonstrated an association between genetic polymorphisms of the μ opioid receptor gene (OPRM1) and response to naltrexone treatment. The Asp40 variant genotype previously shown to be associated with naltrexone treatment response is known to be relatively common among Koreans.


This study was conducted to prospectively investigate the relationship between genotype and response to open-label naltrexone treatment in Korean alcohol-dependent subjects.

Materials and methods

Sixty-three alcohol-dependent subjects were prescribed naltrexone for 12 weeks in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy. Thirty-two subjects were adherent, taking the medication at least 80% of the treatment days [16 Asn40 (A/A) patients and 16 Asp40 variant (A/G or G/G) patients].


Subjects adherent to naltrexone treatment with one or two copies of the Asp40 allele took a significantly longer time than the Asn40 group to relapse (p = 0.014). Although not significant, the Asn40 group treated with naltrexone had a 10.6 times greater relapse rate than the Asp40 variant group. There was no significant difference between the Asn40 group and the Asp40 variant group treated with naltrexone in rates of abstinence.


These results demonstrating a higher therapeutic effect of naltrexone in Korean alcohol-dependent individuals with the Asp40 variant genotype than the Asn40 genotype are consistent with previous study results in individuals of European descent. This is the first study to examine the pharmacogenetics treatment response to naltrexone in non-European subjects.


Naltrexone Mu opioid receptor Polymorphism Korean alcohol dependent