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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2004 Oct;28(10):1481-6.

Association of ALDH1 promoter polymorphisms with alcohol-related phenotypes in southwest California Indians.

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  • 1Department of Neuropharmacology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.



Cytosolic aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH1A1) is an important enzyme in the metabolism of acetaldehyde and the synthesis of retinoic acid. Two polymorphisms in the promoter region of ALDH1A1-ALDH1A1*2 and ALDH1A1*3-have recently been identified and described in small samples of Asian, Caucasian, and African individuals. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of these polymorphisms in a sample of Southwest California Indians and to test for associations with alcohol dependence and other substance-related behaviors.


The participants in this study were 463 adult men and women recruited from 8 contiguous Indian reservations. A structured interview was used to gather information on demographics, psychiatric diagnoses, and personal drinking and drug use history. A blood sample was obtained from each participant, and leukocyte DNA was extracted and used to genotype for the presence of the ALDH1A1 promoter polymorphisms.


Twenty-seven participants (6%) possessed ALDH1A1*2 (frequency, 0.03), two participants possessed ALDH1A1*3, and one participant displayed both of these alleles. Individuals with an ALDH1A1*2 allele had lower rates of alcohol dependence and regular tobacco use than those without this allele. Individuals with ALDH1A1*2 also reported a significantly lower maximum number of drinks ever consumed in a 24-hr period, reported drinking fewer drinks per occasion when they first started drinking regularly, and reported lower expectations of alcohol's effects compared with individuals without this allele.


Results from this study suggest that ALDH1A1*2 may be associated with protection from the development of alcohol and other substance use disorders.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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