Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1997 May;21(3):430-3.

Human GABAA receptor alpha 1 and alpha 3 subunits genes and alcoholism.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. GABA effects are largely mediated by binding to the postsynaptic GABAA receptor, causing the opening of an integral chloride-ion channel. The GABAA antagonists picrotoxin and bicuculline reduce some ethanol-induced behaviors, such as motor impairment, sedation, and hypnosis. The role of this receptor in alcoholism is further supported by effective alleviation of alcohol withdrawal symptoms by GABAA agonists. To determine the role of the GABAA receptor (GABR) genes in the development of alcoholism, we have used alpha 1 and alpha 3 simple sequence repeat polymorphisms in a sample of unrelated alcoholics, alcoholic probands with both parents, and psychiatrically normal controls. For the GABR alpha 1 gene, the differences between allele frequencies, when all alleles were compared together, were not significant between total alcoholics, subtypes of alcoholics, and normal controls. However, for GABR alpha 3, the differences between total alcoholics and normal controls were significant when all alleles were compared together. The differences between subtypes of alcoholics and normal controls were not significant. The results of haplotype relative risk analysis for both genes, GABR alpha 1 and GABR alpha 3, were also negative. It is possible that the sample size in the haplotype relative risk is too small to have power to detect the differences in transmitted versus nontransmitted alleles. There is a need for a replication study in a large family sample that will allow haplotype relative risk or affected sib-pair analysis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Wiley
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk