Human Genetics of Addiction: New Insights and Future Directions

Dana B. Hancock, Christina A. Markunas, Laura J. Bierut, Eric O. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: With the advent of the genome-wide association study (GWAS), our understanding of the genetics of addiction has made significant strides forward. Here, we summarize genetic loci containing variants identified at genome-wide statistical significance (P OpenSPiltSPi 5 × 10 −8 ) and independently replicated, review evidence of functional or regulatory effects for GWAS-identified variants, and outline multi-omics approaches to enhance discovery and characterize addiction loci. Recent Findings: Replicable GWAS findings span 11 genetic loci for smoking, eight loci for alcohol, and two loci for illicit drugs combined and include missense functional variants and noncoding variants with regulatory effects in human brain tissues traditionally viewed as addiction-relevant (e.g., prefrontal cortex [PFC]) and, more recently, tissues often overlooked (e.g., cerebellum). Summary: GWAS analyses have discovered several novel, replicable variants contributing to addiction. Using larger sample sizes from harmonized datasets and new approaches to integrate GWAS with multiple ‘omics data across human brain tissues holds great promise to significantly advance our understanding of the biology underlying addiction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8
JournalCurrent psychiatry reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Alcohol
  • Brain
  • Drugs
  • GWAS
  • Nicotine/smoking
  • Omics


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