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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1995 Aug;19(4):951-4.

Alcohol-metabolizing enzyme polymorphisms and alcoholism in Japan.

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  • 1First Department of Internal Medicine, Jikei University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.


The liver enzymes, alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), which are responsible for the oxidative metabolism of ethanol, are polymorphic in humans. Cytochrome P450IIE1, an ethanol-inducible isozyme of liver microsomal P450, is also important in ethanol metabolism. Genetic polymorphisms in the 5'-flanking region of the human cytochrome P450IIE1 gene have recently been reported. We hypothesized that the polymorphisms of ADH, ALDH, and P450IIE1 modify the susceptibility to development of alcoholism. We determined the genotypes of the ADH2, ALDH2, and P450IIE1 loci of 96 Japanese alcoholics and 60 healthy male subjects, using leukocyte DNA by the restriction fragment-length polymorphism by polymerase chain reaction. The alcoholics had significantly higher frequencies of the ADH2(1) and ALDH2(1) alleles than did the healthy subjects. No significant difference in the frequency of the P450IIE1 genotype was observed between the alcoholics and the healthy subjects. In conclusion, genetic polymorphisms of the ADH and ALDH genes, but not of the P450IIE1 gene, influence the risk of developing alcoholism in Japanese.

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