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Psychiatry Investig. 2010 Dec;7(4):270-7. doi: 10.4306/pi.2010.7.4.270. Epub 2010 Dec 3.

The genetic factors affecting drinking behaviors of korean young adults with variant aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 genotype.

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Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju, Korea.



We determined whether aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) activity alters the way in which drinking behaviors are affected by gene polymorphisms of other alcohol-metabolizing enzymes and serotonin-related proteins.


Through a follow-up survey with a cohort comprising 551 university freshmen over a period of 6 years, we examined the genetic factors affecting drinking behaviors. In 2000, drinking behaviors were assessed and tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH) and ALDH2 gene polymorphisms were determined. Drinking behaviors were repeated in 2006 (n=150), and the gene polymorphisms of ADH1B, ADH1C, CYP2E1, 5-HTR2A 1438A/G, and 5-HTR2A IVS2 were also determined.


In 2000, the variant and wild-type ALDH2 groups exhibited little difference in terms of drinking frequency and problem drinking. Furthermore, some genotypes influenced only the variant group: ADH1B*2/*2 was associated with a lower drinking frequency, and CYP2E1 c2 allele was associated with an increased risk of problem drinking. In 2006, drinking frequency and risk of problem drinking were significantly lower in the variant group than in the wild-type group. However, the TPH AA genotype disturbed that difference, meaning that the subjects in the variant group had developed a similar level of risk of problem drinking to that in the wild-type group.


Korean university freshmen who were identified as a variant group drank as frequently as those in the wild-type group. For the subsequent 6 years they drank less frequently, thus decreasing the risk of problem drinking. However, that frequency drop was interrupted in those with gene polymorphisms such as ADH1B*1, CYP2E1 c2, and TPH A.


ADH1B; ALDH2; Alcohol; CYP2E1; Drinking behavior; Tryptophan hydroxylase

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