GABRA2 alleles moderate the subjective effects of alcohol, which are attenuated by finasteride.

Department of Psychiatry, Alcohol Research Center, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, CT 06030, USA.
Neuropsychopharmacology (Impact Factor: 7.83). 07/2005; 30(6):1193-203. DOI: 10.1038/sj.npp.1300688
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT GABA(A) receptors are involved in the subjective effects of alcohol. Endogenous neuroactive steroids interact with GABA(A) receptors to mediate several behavioral effects of alcohol in rodents. Based on a haplotypic association of alcohol dependence with the gene encoding the GABA(A) receptor alpha-2 subunit (GABRA2), we examined whether GABRA2 alleles are associated with the subjective response to alcohol. We also examined whether finasteride (a 5-alpha steroid reductase inhibitor), which blocks the synthesis of some neuroactive steroids, reduces the subjective response to alcohol. In all, 27 healthy social drinkers (15 males) completed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of high-dose finasteride. After being pretreated with study drug, subjects consumed three alcoholic drinks. Subjective effects were measured repeatedly over the ascending blood alcohol curve. To examine the moderating role of genetic variation in GABRA2, a single-nucleotide polymorphism that was informative in association studies was included as a factor in the analysis. Subjects homozygous for the more common A-allele (n=7) showed more subjective effects of alcohol than did individuals with one or two copies of the alcohol dependence-associated G-allele (n=20, including two homozygotes). Among the A-allele homozygotes, there was a greater reduction in several subjective effects during the finasteride session compared to the placebo session. These findings provide preliminary evidence that the risk of alcoholism associated with GABRA2 alleles may be related to differences in the subjective response to alcohol. The effects of finasteride provide indirect evidence for a mediating role of neuroactive steroids in some of the subjective effects of alcohol.

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    ABSTRACT: Background Annually, the use and abuse of alcohol contributes to millions of deaths and billions of dollars in societal costs. To determine the impact of genetic variation on the susceptibility to the disorder and its response to treatment, studies have been conducted to assess the contribution of a variety of candidate genetic variants. These variants, which we review here, were chosen based upon their observed or hypothesized functional relevance to alcohol use disorder (AUD) risk or to the mechanism by which medications used to treat the disorder exert their effects.Methods This qualitative review examines studies in which candidate polymorphisms were tested as moderator variables to identify pharmacogenetic effects on either the subjective response to alcohol or the outcomes of pharmacotherapy.ResultsAlthough findings from these studies provide evidence of a number of clinically relevant pharmacogenetic effects, the literature is limited and there are conflicting findings that require resolution.Conclusions Pharmacogenetic studies of AUD treatment that use greater methodological rigor and better statistical controls, such as corrections for multiple testing, may help to resolve inconsistent findings. These procedures could also lead to the discovery of more robust and clinically meaningful moderator effects. As the field evolves through methodological standardization and the use of larger study samples, pharmacogenetic research has the potential to inform clinical care by enhancing therapeutic effects and personalizing treatments. These efforts may also provide insights into the mechanisms by which medications reduce heavy drinking or promote abstinence in patients with an AUD.
    Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 02/2015; 39(3). DOI:10.1111/acer.12643 · 3.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background Genetic predisposition and environmental influences are both important factors in the development of problematic behavior leading to substance use in adolescence. Involvement with delinquent peers also strongly predicts adolescent externalizing behavior. Several lines of evidence support a role of GABRA2 on externalizing behavior related to disinhibition. However, whether this genetic association is influenced by the environment such as peer behavior remains unknown.Methods We examined the moderating role of GABRA2 genetic variation on the socialization model of delinquent peer affiliation (at ages 12–14 years) on externalizing behavior (at ages 15–17 years) in the Michigan Longitudinal Study (MLS) adolescent sample.The sample consisted of 244 adolescents (75 females and 152 with at least one parent with a DSM-IV lifetime alcohol dependence/abuse diagnosis). Peer delinquent activity reported by the participant and teacher-reported adolescent externalizing behavior (Teacher Report Form (TRF) were assessed.ResultsNo main effect of the GABRA2 SNP rs279826, which tags a large haplotype, on externalizing behavior was observed. However, there was a statistically reliable GABRA2 × peer delinquency interaction. The effect of peer delinquent involvement on externalizing scores and the rule breaking subscale is significantly stronger for those with the GG genotype compared to A-carriers, whereas there was no effect of genotype on externalizing in the absence of peer delinquent involvement. No interaction was observed for the aggression subscale.Conclusion Our results suggest that the genetic effect of GABRA2 on externalizing behavior, more specifically on rule breaking is, at least in part, due to its effect on susceptibility to environmental exposure (i.e., peer delinquency).
    11/2014; 4(6). DOI:10.1002/brb3.291
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    ABSTRACT: Schizophrenia treatment has been hampered by undesirable adverse effects, including weight gain and associated complications. Recent candidate gene studies have been exploring the appetite regulation pathways in antipsychotic-associated weight gain (AAWG) with some promising leads. Genome-wide association studies of obesity have pointed to a number of potential candidate genes, such as MC4R, that were later found to be shared with AAWG. GABAA α2 receptor subunit (GABRA2) was another potential candidate gene for obesity from genome-wide association studies; however, it has not been explored in AAWG. We examined 9 single nucleotide polymorphisms across the GABRA2 gene. Prospective weight change was assessed for a total of 160 schizophrenia patients of European ancestry. The rs279858 marker was associated with percent weight change, with the patients homozygous for the TT genotype experiencing higher percentage weight gain on average than the C allele carriers (P = 0.009). When we performed the analysis considering each clinical site using a meta-analytic method, the results remained statistically significant (P = 1.4e-4). These findings became even more significant when we considered only patients taking clozapine or olanzapine, the 2 medications with higher risk for weight gain (P < 1e-10). GABRA2 genetic variants may play a role in predicting AAWG. However, replication in larger and independent samples is required.
    Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 12/2014; 35(1). DOI:10.1097/JCP.0000000000000261 · 3.76 Impact Factor


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