Chapter

Behavioral Neuroscience of Drug Addiction

Volume 3 of the series Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences pp 277-299

Date:

Neural Markers of Genetic Vulnerability to Drug Addiction

  • Daniel J. MüllerAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité University Medicine, Campus Charité MitteNeurogenetics Section, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto
  • , Olga LikhodiAffiliated withNeurogenetics Section, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto
  • , Andreas HeinzAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité University Medicine, Campus Charité MitteNeurogenetics Section, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto Email author 

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Abstract

This chapter will summarize genetics findings derived from various strategies and highlight important neural markers (or correlates) in some specific and extensively studied genes. Most studies highlighted here focus on alcohol and nicotine dependence (AD and ND, respectively). AD and ND are among the most prevalent addictive disorders worldwide, are among the best studied, and are also associated globally with the largest socioeconomic impact.

We describe different mechanisms through which genes can have an impact on the addictive behaviors, distinguishing between the genes that inscribe the proteins affecting the metabolism of the addictive substance (e.g., ADH/ALDH for alcohol or CYP2A6 for nicotine) and genes that code for the brain transmitter systems, such as genes involved in cerebral neurotransmission thought to be involved in addiction (e.g., brain reward system, mood regulation, opioid system). Strategies include linkage analyses, association studies, whole genome association studies as well as intermediate/endophenotype studies. Moreover, some important findings derived from animal studies and from neuroimaging studies are highlighted. In conclusion, we provide the reader with an overview of most important studies related to AD and ND and give an outlook how these findings may become useful and beneficial in the future.

Keywords

Alcohol dependence Nicotine dependence Genetics Association studies Genome-wide studies Brain reward system