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Hum Genet. 1994 Sep;94(3):217-23.

Characterization of the three genotypes of low Km aldehyde dehydrogenase in a Japanese population.

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Department of Hygiene and Preventive Medicine, Osaka University Medical School, Japan.


A deficiency in low Km aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2) is regarded as the main factor responsible for "Oriental flushing" and other symptoms due to alcohol sensitivity. In this study, the relationship of the ALDH2 genotype to alcohol-associated symptoms and drinking behavior was investigated in 524 Japanese workers, using a new, rapid, and nonisotopic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method. Differences in the frequency of alcohol-associated manifestations between the normal homozygote and the other deficient types were apparent. In addition, among the ALDH2-deficient individuals, the atypical homozygote was obviously more hypersensitive to alcohol than the heterozygote, judging from the frequency of flushing or other drinking-associated manifestations with a small dose of alcohol. Drinking frequency also apparently decreased in the following order: typical homozygote, heterozygote, atypical homozygote. Similarly, mean amounts of alcohol consumption also decreased in the same order, although considerable variation existed within the typical homozygote and the heterozygote group. In contrast, neither the manifestations nor the drinking behavior were, in general, influenced by polymorphism of the alcohol dehydrogenase beta-subunit (ADH2) gene in males. These findings further indicate the important contribution of the ALDH2 genotype to alcohol sensitivity in Orientals.

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