Genetics of alcoholism
Great progress has been made by research on the contribution genetic factors make to a vulnerability toward alcoholism. Animal studies have demonstrated the importance of genetics in ethanol preference and levels of consumption, and human family, twin, and adoption research have revealed a 4-fold higher risk for offspring of alcoholics, even if they were adopted out at birth. The work presented in this symposium reviews the ongoing search for genetic trait markers of a vulnerability toward alcoholism. Dr. Li has used both animal and human research to demonstrate the possible importance of the genetic control of enzymes involved in ethanol metabolism and has worked to help develop an animal model of alcoholism. The possible importance of subgroups with different levels of predisposition toward alcoholism is emphasized by Dr. Cloninger. An overview of the studies of sons of alcoholics, given by Dr. Schuckit, reveals the potential importance of a decreased intensity of reaction to ethanol as part of a predisposition toward alcoholism and discusses the possible impact of some brain waves and ethanol metabolites to an alcoholism vulnerability. Dr. Deitrich reviews interrelationships between studies of animals and humans in the search for factors involved in a genetic vulnerability toward alcoholism. Taken together, these presentations underscore the importance of genetic factors in alcoholism, review animal and human research attempting to identify markers of a vulnerability, and reveal the high level of interaction between human and animal research.
Schuckit, MA; Li, TK; Cloninger, CR; Deitrich, RA
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
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