• Alcohol dependence;
  • alcohol use;
  • genetic association;
  • nicotinic receptors;
  • SNP

The CHRNA6 and CHRNB3 genes have been associated with nicotine dependence and early subjective response to nicotine. Here we present evidence, using a nationally representative sample of adults, that this region is also associated with alcohol behaviors. Six SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) spanning the CHRNB3/A6 genes were analyzed using the statistical genetics software FBAT-PC, which allows one to examine a collection of multiple phenotypes to generate a maximally heritable composite phenotype for each SNP. The six SNPs were tested using FBAT-PC including four alcohol phenotypes: average number of drinks, blackouts, total number of DSM-IV abuse and dependence symptoms endorsed, and quit attempts. Three SNPs in CHRNA6 (rs1072003, P = 0.015; rs892413, P = 0.0033 and rs2304297, P = 0.012) and one SNP in CHRNB3 (rs13280604, P = 0.0053) were associated with a composite of the alcohol phenotypes. The association was primarily driven by the average number of drinks.