Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene That Influences Alcohol Consumption Identified

Date:
December 6, 2007
Source:
NIH/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Summary:
Researchers applied a variety of genetic and analytic techniques to mice having nearly identical genetic background, but differing in their preference for alcohol, to identify a chromosomal region, and ultimately a gene, associated with alcohol preference. If further studies show that a similar gene is relevant to alcohol problems in humans, the finding may lead to new opportunities for developing drugs to treat alcohol dependence.

A variant of a gene involved in communication among brain cells has a direct influence on alcohol consumption in mice, according to a new study. Scientists do not know yet whether a similar gene variant, with a similar effect on alcohol consumption, exists in humans.

Known as Grm7, the gene encodes a receptor subtype that inhibits the release of glutamate and other neurotransmitter molecules that brain cells use to communicate with one another. Researchers identified a gene variant, or polymorphism, that reduces the abundance of Grm7 messenger RNA (mRNA) in brain tissue. mRNA is the molecular intermediate between a gene and its protein product. Mice that possess this gene variant drink more alcohol than do mice with higher brain levels of Grm7 mRNA. A report of the study appears as an online Article in Press in Genomics.

"This is a noteworthy contribution, particularly since identifying genes that predispose to alcohol-related behaviors is such an arduous task," says NIAAA Director Ting-Kai Li, M.D.

Scientists have long known that genes account for a significant proportion of the risk for alcoholism. However, the fact that there are multiple such genes that interact with each other and with multiple environmental factors to influence drinking behavior has hampered studies aimed at isolating individual genes.

"Controlling for this background noise -- the various gene-gene and gene-environment interactions -- presents considerable methodological challenges," notes first author Csaba Vadasz, Ph.D., professor of psychiatric research in the department of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine, and Director of the NeuroBehavioral Genetic Research Program at the Nathan Kline Institute in Orangeburg, N.Y.

To overcome these difficulties, Dr. Vadasz and colleagues applied a variety of genetic and analytic techniques to animals having nearly identical genetic background, but differing in their preference for alcohol, to identify a chromosomal region, and ultimately the Grm7 gene, associated with alcohol preference.

"Our findings support emerging evidence of the critical role that the brain's glutamate pathways play in addiction," says Dr. Vadasz. "While dopamine has traditionally been cast as a central actor in the neurochemistry of substance use and abuse, recent studies indicate that glutamate systems play an important role in reinforcement and addiction."

If further studies show that a similar gene variant is relevant to alcohol problems in humans, the finding by Dr. Vadasz and colleagues may lead to new opportunities for developing drugs to treat alcohol dependence. Dr. Vadasz speculates that such drugs might be designed to control the level of the Grm7 gene product or modulate the activity of the gene product itself.

This study was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Army.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. "Gene That Influences Alcohol Consumption Identified." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071205153142.htm>.
NIH/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2007, December 6). Gene That Influences Alcohol Consumption Identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071205153142.htm
NIH/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. "Gene That Influences Alcohol Consumption Identified." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071205153142.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins