Associations Among GABRG1, Level of Response to Alcohol, and Drinking Behaviors

Authors

  • Lara A. Ray,

    1. From the Department of Psychology, University of California (LAR), Los Angeles, California; and Department of Psychology, The Mind Research Network and University of New Mexico (KEH), Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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  • Kent E. Hutchison

    1. From the Department of Psychology, University of California (LAR), Los Angeles, California; and Department of Psychology, The Mind Research Network and University of New Mexico (KEH), Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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Reprint requests: Lara A. Ray, PhD, Assistant Professor, Psychology Department, University of California, Los Angeles, 1285 Franz Hall, Box 951563, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563; Fax: 310-207-5895; E-mail: lararay@psych.ucla.edu

Abstract

Background:  Recent studies of the genetics of alcoholism have focused on a cluster of genes encoding for γ-aminobutyric acid (GABAA) receptor subunits, which is thought to play a role in the expression of addiction phenotypes. This study examined allelic associations between 2 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the GABRG1 gene (rs1391166 and rs1497571) and alcohol phenotypes, namely level of response to alcohol, alcohol use patterns, and alcohol-related problems.

Method:  Participants were non-treatment-seeking seeking hazardous drinkers (n = 124) who provided DNA samples, participated in a face-to-face interview for level of response to alcohol, and completed a series of drinking and individual differences measures.

Results:  Analyses revealed that a SNP of the GABRG1 gene (rs1497571) was associated with level of response to alcohol and drinking patterns in this subclinical sample. Follow-up mediational analyses were also conducted to examine putative mechanisms underlying these associations.

Discussion:  These findings replicate and extend recent research suggesting that genetic variation at the GABRG1 locus may underlie the expression of alcohol phenotypes, including level of response to alcohol.

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