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J Stud Alcohol. 2003 Mar;64(2):176-81.

Association of the ADH2*3 allele with greater alcohol expectancies in African-American young adults.

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Department of Neuropharmacology, The Scripps Research Institute, 10550 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.



A polymorphism at the alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) gene locus, ADH2*3, exhibits markedly greater capacity and maximal velocity for ethanol, and has been reported to occur exclusively in African Americans and some tribes of Native Americans. While it appears that this allele may produce protection from alcohol-induced morbidity, the mechanism by which it does so remains unknown.


This study examined the association between expectations of the effects of alcohol and the presence of the ADH2*3 allele in 66 African-American young adults (18-25 years old). A structured interview, alcohol-related expectancies and a blood sample were obtained from each participant.


A positive association between the presence of an ADH2*3 allele and expectations of alcohol's effects (p < .01) was uncovered.


These data suggest that the ADH2*3 allele may encode for a more intense response to alcohol, an effect associated with protection from the development of alcohol-use disorders in other populations.

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