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Mol Psychiatry. 2000 Jan;5(1):56-63.

A haplotype at the DBH locus, associated with low plasma dopamine beta-hydroxylase activity, also associates with cocaine-induced paranoia.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06516, USA.


Low levels of dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DbetaH) protein in the plasma or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) are associated with greater vulnerability to positive psychotic symptoms in several psychiatric disorders. DbetaH level is a stable, genetically controlled trait. DBH, the locus encoding DbetaH protein, is the major quantitative trait locus controlling plasma and CSF DbetaH levels. We therefore hypothesized that DBH variants or haplotypes, associated with low levels of DbetaH in the plasma, would also associate with greater vulnerability to cocaine-induced paranoia. To test this hypothesis, we first showed that a di-allelic variant, DBH*5'-ins/del, located approximately 3 kb 5' to the DBH transcriptional start site, significantly associates with plasma DbetaH activity in European-Americans (n = 66). Linkage disequilibrium analysis of that polymorphism and DBH*444g/a, another di-allelic variant associated with DbetaH levels, demonstrated that alleles of similar association to DbetaH levels are in positive disequilibrium. We then estimated DBH haplotype frequencies in cocaine-dependent European Americans rated for cocaine-induced paranoia (n = 45). As predicted, the low-DbetaH-associated haplotype, Del-a, was significantly more frequent (P = 0.0003) in subjects endorsing cocaine-induced paranoia (n = 29) than in those denying it (n = 16). Comparison to control haplotype frequencies (n = 145 healthy European-Americans) showed that the association predominantly reflected under-representation of Del-a haplotypes in those denying cocaine-induced paranoia. We conclude that: (a) the two DBH polymorphisms we studied are associated with plasma DBH levels; (b) those two polymorphisms are in significant linkage disequilibrium in European Americans, with alleles of similar association to DbetaH levels in positive disequilibrium; and (c) the haplotype associated with low DBH activity is also associated with cocaine-induced paranoia. Molecular Psychiatry (2000) 5, 56-63.

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