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Keywords:

  • alcohol;
  • alcoholism;
  • alcohol dependence;
  • endophenotype;
  • genetic;
  • gene expression;
  • gene mapping;
  • genome;
  • microarray;
  • linkage

Plentiful data from both animal and human studies support the importance of genetic influences in substance abuse and dependence (Bierut et al., 1998; Tsuang et al., 1998; Kendler et al., 2003). This review summarizes the evidence supporting such genetic influences, places them into perspective regarding animal and human studies, discusses the importance of both genes and environment, and highlights some specific genes of interest regarding the vulnerabilities for problems associated with alcohol use disorders. A long history of repetitive heavy use of alcohol exists across generations as well as the high prevalence of alcohol-related problems in Western societies. Moreover, the information offered here addresses the importance of more general issues regarding genetics and gene expression related to alcohol abuse and dependence.

British Journal of Pharmacology (2008) 154, 275–287; doi:fn1; published online 24 March 2008