advertisement
Home » News » Genes Influence Susceptibility to Alcohol

Genes Influence Susceptibility to Alcohol

Genes Influence Susceptibility to AlcoholA new study suggests genetic factors control variations in a certain region of the brain, which could in turn be partly responsible for increased susceptibility to alcohol dependence.

It appears that the size of the right orbito frontal cortex (OFC), an area of the brain that is involved in regulating emotional processing and impulsive behavior, is smaller in teenagers and young adults who have several relatives that are alcohol dependent.

In the research, which was published this week in the early online version of Biological Psychiatry, Dr. Shirley Hill, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and her team imaged the brains of 107 teens and young adults using magnetic resonance imaging.

They also examined variation in certain genes of the participants and administered a well-validated questionnaire to measure the youngsters’ tendency to be impulsive.

The participants included 63 individuals who were selected for the study because they had multiple alcohol-dependent family members, suggesting a genetic predisposition, and 44 who had no close relatives dependent on drugs or alcohol. Those with several alcohol-dependent relatives were more likely to have reduced volume of the OFC.

When the investigators looked at two genes, 5-HTT and BDNF, they found certain variants that led to a reduction in white matter volume in the OFC, and that in turn was associated with greater impulsivity.

“We are beginning to understand how genetic factors can lead to structural brain changes that may make people more vulnerable to alcoholism,” Dr. Hill said.

“These results also support our earlier findings of reduced volume of other brain regions in high-risk kids.”

These differences can be observed even before the high-risk offspring start drinking excessively, she added, “leading us to conclude that they are predisposing factors in the cause of this disease, rather than a consequence of it.”

Source: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Genes Influence Susceptibility to Alcohol

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Genes Influence Susceptibility to Alcohol. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 12, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/11/07/genes-influence-susceptibility-to-alcohol/3286.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 30 Jun 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jun 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.