• Alcoholism;
  • Withdrawal;
  • Cocaine Dependence;
  • Neuropeptide Y;
  • Genetic Association

Background:  Several lines of evidence in both human and animal studies suggest that variation in neuropeptide Y (NPY) or its receptor genes (NPY1R, NPY2R and NPY5R) is associated with alcohol dependence as well as alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Additional studies suggest that cocaine may affect NPY expression.

Methods:  A total of 39 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped across NPY and its 3 receptor genes in a sample of 1,923 subjects from 219 multiplex alcoholic families of European American descent recruited as part of the Collaborative Studies on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) study. Family-based association analysis was performed to test the primary hypothesis that variation in these genes is associated with alcohol dependence. Secondary analyses evaluated whether there was an association of these SNPs with symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, cocaine dependence, or comorbid alcohol and cocaine dependence.

Results:  Although variations in NPY itself were not associated with these phenotypes, variations in 2 NPY-receptor genes were. SNPs in NPY2R provided significant evidence of association with alcohol dependence, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, comorbid alcohol and cocaine dependence, and cocaine dependence (all < 0.03). Haplotype analyses strengthened the evidence for these phenotypes (global 0.0004 < < 0.005). SNPs in NPY5R demonstrated significant association with alcohol withdrawal characterized by seizures (< 0.05).

Conclusion:  These results indicate that sequence variations in NPY receptor genes are associated with alcohol dependence, particularly a severe subtype of alcohol dependence characterized by withdrawal symptoms, comorbid alcohol and cocaine dependence, and cocaine dependence.