Dopamine D4 receptor gene exon III polymorphism associated with binge drinking attitudinal phenotype

Department of Community Health, Saint Louis University, MO 63103, USA.
Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.) (Impact Factor: 2.01). 05/2009; 43(3):179-84. DOI: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2009.02.001
Source: PubMed


Although binge drinking is a serious public health problem, relatively few studies have investigated the relationship between specific dopaminergic genes such as the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) and binge drinking attitudinal phenotypes. This study used the DNA subsample (N=233, mean age 19.8, standard deviation,0.89) of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to investigate the association between a 48 base-pair variable number of tandem repeats in the DRD4 gene and a measure of binge drinking. Multivariate regression models indicated that the 7-repeat (7R) allele of the exon III polymorphism is significantly positively associated (beta=0.16, P<.05) with binge drinking while controlling for low self-control and demographic variables. Findings were sturdy across race and gender. The present study provides unique evidence to the genetic underpinnings of binge drinking. Results suggest that the 7R allele may be an important contributor to the liability to binge drinking.

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    • "One genetic polymorphism of interest in the alcoholism literature is the number of variable number tandem repeats (VNTR) in the third exon of the DRD4 dopamine receptor gene. The presence of a long DRD4 allele (involving 7+ repeats) decreases dopamine reception efficiency (Asghari et al., 1995) and has been linked with increased craving in response to alcohol cues (McGeary, 2009; Ray et al., 2010), greater alcohol use (Vaughn et al., 2009), and personality correlates of alcohol use such as thrill seeking (Dmitrieva et al., 2011), as well as other types of problem and addictive behaviors such as delinquency (Boutwell and Beaver, 2008) and smoking (Hutchison et al., 2002). This study examines the interaction of DRD4 polymorphism with a key environmental factor in alcohol use – peer drinking (Windle, 2000), across several developmental periods from adolescence through young adulthood. "
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