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Pharmacogenomics. 2000 Aug;1(3):309-33.

The DRD2 gene in psychiatric and neurological disorders and its phenotypes.

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Alcohol Research Center, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and the Brain Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles 90024, USA.


The TaqIA D2 dopamine receptor (DRD2) minor (A1) allele was first associated with severe alcoholism a decade ago. Since then, studies both confirming and not confirmnning this finding were reported. However, a meta-analysis of a large number of Caucasian alcoholics (both more severe and less severe) and controls (both assessed and unassessed for substance use disorders) revealed a significantly higher frequency (p < 10(-6)) and prevalence (p < 10(-8)) of the DRD2 A1 allele in the alcoholics. Further analysis showed that the more severe alcoholics had a 3-fold higher prevalence of the DRD2 A1 allele than the assessed controls (p < 10(-10)), whereas no difference was found between the less severe alcoholics and the unassessed controls. DRD2 exonic or promoter mutations have not yet been associated with alcoholism, although two intronic variants at the TaqIB and intron 6 sites, which are in linkage disequilibrium with the TaqIA site, were associated with this disorder. Variants of the DRD2 gene have also been associated with cocaine, nicotine and opioid dependence, obesity and gambling. It is hypothesised that the DRD2 is a reinforcement or reward gene. Although less intensively studied than substance use disorders, the DRD2 gene has been implicated in Tourette's syndrome (TS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and certain symptoms associated with affective disorders and schizophrenia. Further, DRD2 variants have been implicated in Parkinson's disease (PD) and in iatrogenically-induced movement disorders, as well as in certain migraineurs. Phenotypic differences have been associated with DRD2 variants. These include reduced D2 dopamine receptor numbers and diminished glucose metabolism in the brain of subjects who carry the DRD2 A1 allele. In addition, phenotypic differences have been found in neurocognitive and personality characteristics, and in treatment outcome of DRD2 variants. The involvement of the DRD2 gene in certain neuropsychiatric disorders opens up the potential of a targeted pharmacogenomic approach to the prevention and treatment of these disorders.

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