• Alcohol;
  • Alcohol Abuse;
  • Alcohol Dependence;
  • Cannabinoid Receptor CB1;
  • Polymorphism

Background:  Alcohol dependence (AD) vulnerability is determined by a complex array of genetic factors. Given the potential role of endocannabinoid system in AD, polymorphisms within cannabinoid receptor 1 gene (CNR1) have been potentially associated with susceptibility to this disease. We thus aimed to examine the relationship between 3 allelic variants of CNR1 (rs6454674, rs1049353, and rs806368) and AD.

Methods:  Genotyping of the aforementioned polymorphisms was carried out by PCR in 298 male alcoholics (187 of them with AD) and 155 healthy controls. Single-marker, haplotype, and interaction analysis were performed to analyze the influence of CNR1 gene on AD susceptibility.

Results:  We found an association between CNR1 gene and AD after haplotype analysis. Alcoholic patients with TGT haplotype (corresponding to rs6454674-rs1049353-rs806368 polymorphisms in this order) were less prone to have AD (= 0.017). Besides, alcoholics with a G/T substitution of the first marker (GGT haplotype) or a C/T substitution of the third marker (TGC haplotype) were more likely to develop AD (= 0.006 and 0.004, respectively) and an interaction was found between the G allele of rs6454674 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and the C allele of rs806368 SNP (p = 0.009).

Conclusions:  Our findings support previously reported associations of CNR1 with dependence to alcohol and other substances and emphasizes the relevance of endocannabinoid system in AD.