Background: Previous studies demonstrated, and replicated, an association between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the GABRA2 gene and risk for alcohol dependence. The present study examines the association of a GABRA2 SNP with another definition of alcohol involvement and with the effects of psychosocial treatment.
Methods: European-American subjects (n = 812, 73.4% male) provided DNA samples for the analysis. All were participants in Project Matching Alcoholism Treatment to Client Heterogeneity (MATCH), a multi-center randomized clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of 3 types of psychosocial treatment for alcoholism: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET), or twelve-step facilitation (TSF). The daily probabilities of drinking and heavy drinking were estimated during the 12-week treatment and 12-month post-treatment periods.
Results: Subjects homozygous for the allele associated with low risk for alcohol dependence in previous studies had lower daily probabilities of drinking and heavy drinking in the present study. This low-risk allele was also associated with a greater difference in drinking outcomes between the treatments. In addition, it enhanced the relative superiority of TSF over CBT and MET. Population stratification was excluded as a confound using ancestry informative marker analysis.
Conclusions: The assessment of genetic vulnerability may be relevant to studies of the efficacy of psychosocial treatment: GABRA2 genotype modifies the variance in drinking and can therefore moderate power for resolving differences between treatments.