Nav: Home

Study finds hundreds of genes and genetic codes that regulate genes tied to alcoholism

August 04, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS - Using rats carefully bred to either drink large amounts of alcohol or to spurn it, researchers at Indiana and Purdue universities have identified hundreds of genes that appear to play a role in increasing the desire to drink alcohol.

The study, published in PLOS Genetics, not only reinforces the view that the genetics of alcoholism are important, are complex and involve many genes, but also that the sections of the genetic code that regulate the actions of genes are at least as important as the genes themselves.

By using high-alcohol-drinking rat lines -- which also mimic all criteria of human alcoholism -- and low-alcohol-drinking rat lines, both of which were bred at the Indiana University School of Medicine, the researchers avoided issues that have made genomic analyses of alcoholism in humans difficult, such as inaccurate family histories of drinking, drinking variability and non-genetic economic, social and cultural factors. Although not identical to humans, the genetics of rats and mice often provide powerful clues to genetic activities in humans.

Conducting complete genome analyses of the two lines of rats, the researchers identified key regions of genetic code known as signatures of selection in 930 genes associated with alcohol preference. The majority of the areas were within single gene regions, often within sections of the genetic code that promote or otherwise regulate the activities of the genes.

"This research highlights that alcoholism in rats has a strong genetic component and is influenced by many hundreds of genes, each with small effects. There is no single gene responsible for alcoholism. However, critical regulatory pathways involving several of the genes discovered were found, suggesting that potential pharmacological solutions may be possible," said William M. Muir, Ph.D., professor of genetics in the Department of Animal Sciences at Purdue.

Muir and Feng C. Zhou, Ph.D., professor of anatomy and cell biology at the IU School of Medicine, were co-senior authors of the paper. Both are investigators with the Indiana Alcohol Research Center at the IU School of Medicine. Dr. Zhou is a member of the Stark Neurosciences Research Institute at IU.

Dr. Zhou noted that "some of the regulatory pathways included those involved with the brain's ability to make new connections over time in response to new activities or environmental factors, what we call neuronal plasticity. Others included neurological and immune systems involved with stress."

"Predictions of risk of alcoholism might become possible," said Dr. Muir, "but will require a large number of genetic markers."

Future research, they said, will include verification of these results through analysis of genetic activity that occurs in response to alcohol drinking and also examination of these newly found genes in humans afflicted with the disease.
-end-
The research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health, P60 AA07611 and AA016698.

In addition to Drs. Muir and Zhou, investigators contributing to the research were first author Chiao-Ling Lo, Tiebing Liang, Yunlong Liu, Xiaoling Xuei and Lawrence Lumeng of the IU School of Medicine, and Amy C. Lossie of the National Institute of Drug Abuse at the NIH.

Indiana University

Related Alcohol Articles:

Sobering new data on drinking and driving: 15% of US alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities involve alcohol under the legal limit
A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published by Elsevier, found that motor vehicle crashes involving drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) below the legal limit of 0.08 percent accounted for 15% of alcohol-involved crash deaths in the United States.
Alcohol marketing and underage drinking
A new study by a research team including scientists from the Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation provides a systematic review of research that examines relationships between exposure to alcohol marketing and alcohol use behaviors among adolescents and young adults.
Alcohol-induced deaths in US
National vital statistics data from 2000 to 2016 were used to examine how rates of alcohol-induced deaths (defined as those deaths due to alcohol consumption that could be avoided if alcohol weren't involved) have changed in the US and to compare the results by demographic groups including sex, race/ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status and geographic location.
Cuts in alcohol duty linked to 2000 more alcohol-related deaths in England
Government cuts to alcohol taxes have had dramatic consequences for public health, including nearly 2000 more alcohol-related deaths in England since 2012, according to new research from the University of Sheffield's School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR).
Integrated stepped alcohol treatment for people in HIV care improves both HIV & alcohol outcomes
Increasing the intensity of treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) over time improves alcohol-related outcomes among people with HIV, according to new clinical research supported by the National Institutes of Health.
The Lancet:Targets to reduce harmful alcohol use are likely to be missed as global alcohol intake increases
Increasing rates of alcohol use suggest that the world is not on track to achieve targets against harmful alcohol use, according to a study of 189 countries' alcohol intake between 1990-2017 and estimated intake up to 2030, published in The Lancet.
Alcohol-induced brain damage continues after alcohol is stopped
Now, a joint work of the Institute of Neuroscience CSIC-UMH, in Alicante, and the Central Institute of Mental Health of Mannheim, in Germany, has detected, by means of magnetic resonance, how the damage in the brain continues during the first weeks of abstinence, although the consumption of alcohol ceases.
Does alcohol consumption have an effect on arthritis?
Several previous studies have demonstrated that moderate alcohol consumption is linked with less severe disease and better quality of life in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but a new Arthritis Care & Research study suggests that this might not be because drinking alcohol is beneficial.
How genes affect tobacco and alcohol use
A new study gives insight into the complexity of genetic and environmental factors that compel some of us to drink and smoke more than others.
Cutting societal alcohol use may prevent alcohol disorders developing -- Otago research reveals
Society must take collective responsibility to reduce the harm caused by alcohol use disorders, a University of Otago academic says.
More Alcohol News and Alcohol Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.