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J Psychiatr Res. 1987;21(4):499-505.

Pharmacogenetics of psychoactive drugs.

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  • 1Institute of Psychiatric Research, Indiana University Medical Center, Indianapolis 46223.


Response to psychoactive drugs is subject to genetic variation. Heritable differences in metabolism of antidepressants have been demonstrated and appear to be clinically relevant. More complex genetic variations in drug response are important in alcoholism and possibly other forms of substance abuse. Pharmacologic challenge studies in volunteer twins have shown familial variation in responses to the cholinergic agonist arecoline and to the monoaminergic agonist amphetamine. Arecoline responses also differentiate well-state bipolar patients from controls; this is consistent with a hypothesis of muscarinic supersensitivity in affective disorder. Genetically characterized animal models may be useful in further analyzing such neurochemical differences.

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