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J Psychiatr Res. 2008 Feb;42(3):184-91. Epub 2007 Jan 17.

GABA-A2 receptor subunit gene (GABRA2) polymorphisms and risk for alcohol dependence.

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Psychiatric Hospital of Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany.


Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) A receptors are believed to mediate some of the physiological and behavioral actions of ethanol. Recent studies have suggested that genetic variants of the GABA-A receptor alpha2 subunit gene (GABRA2) are associated with alcohol dependence. The aim of this study is to confirm and extend the role of GABRA2 haplotypes in the liability to alcohol dependence. 291 (231 male) treatment-seeking alcohol-dependent individuals and 295 (153 male) control subjects were enrolled into the study. Characteristics of alcohol dependence were obtained using the SSAGA (semi-structured assessment of the genetics of alcoholism, German Version). Genotyping of 10 SNPs across the GABRA2 gene was performed following previous reports and using PCR. One genetic variant was detected to significantly differ between alcohol-dependent subjects and controls. Two common 8 SNP haplotypes and their complementary alleles were identified containing this SNP and were present in 89.9% of controls and 93.4% of the alcohol-dependent individuals. One of the haplotypes (T-C-A-C-A-T-T-C) was significantly associated with alcohol dependence and characteristics of alcohol withdrawal and severity of alcohol dependence (delirium tremens, withdrawal seizures). These findings support and extend the three previous studies implicating a GABA-A receptor subunit as contributing to the genetic risk for alcohol dependence. Possible implications of these findings are discussed.

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