25 Scopus citations


Researchers are using various strategies to identify the genes that may be associated with alcoholism. The initial efforts primarily relied on candidate gene and linkage studies; more recently, however, modern advances in genotyping have resulted in widespread use of genome-wide association studies for alcohol dependence. The key fndings of the earlier studies were that variations (i.e., polymorphisms) in the DNA sequences of the genes encoding alcohol dehydrogenase 1B (i.e., the ADH1B gene), aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (i.e., the ALDH2 gene), and other alcohol-metabolizing enzymes mediate the risk for alcoholism; moreover, these polymorphisms also have an impact on the risk of alcohol-related cancers, such as esophageal cancer. In addition, a gene encoding one of the receptors for the neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) known as GABRA2 seems to have a role in the development of alcohol dependence. Genome-wide association studies now offer a host of emerging opportunities, as well as challenges, for discovering the genetic etiology of alcohol dependence and for unveiling new treatment strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-281
Number of pages8
JournalAlcohol Research and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2011


  • Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH)
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Alcohol-metabolizing genes
  • Alcohol-related cancers
  • Alcoholism
  • Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH)
  • Candidate gene studies
  • DNA
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Genetic factors
  • Genetic mapping
  • Genetic variants
  • Genome-wide association studies
  • γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)


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