D2 dopamine receptor TaqI alleles in medically ill alcoholic and nonalcoholic patients

Ernest P. Noble, Karl Syndulko, Robert J. Fitch, Terry Ritchie, M. Charloue Bohlman, Paul Guth, Peter J. Sheridan, Anne Montgomery, Camilla Heinzman, Robert S. Sparkes, Kenneth Blum

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90 Scopus citations


The prevalence of TaqI A alleles of the D2 dopamine receptor (DRD2) gene was examined in two subgroups of medically ill nonalcoholics (more prevalent and less prevalent substance users, MPSU and LPSU, respectively) and in two subgroups of medically ill alcoholics (more severe and less severe alcoholics, MSA and LSA, respectively). The prevalence of the Al allele in the 80 nonalcoholic and 73 alcoholic patients was 30.0% and 52.1%, respectively (P = 0.009). In the four subgroups of these patients, the prevalence of this allele was: LPSU = 18.2%, MPSU = 34.5%, LSA = 44.4% and MSA = 58.3%. Linear trend analysis showed that as the use of substances and severity of alcoholism increase, so does Al prevalence (P = 0.001). Specific, subgroup comparisons showed Al prevalence in MSA to be about 3-fold (P = 0.007) and 1.5-fold (P = 0.04) higher than in LPSU and MPSU subgroups, respectively. Similarly, in a combined analysis of independent studies, Al prevalence in MSA was higher when compared to LSA (P < 5 × 10-3), MPSU (P < l0-4 and LPSU (P < l0-8) subgroups. There was virtually no difference in the prevalence of the Al allele between LSA and MPSU subgroups. None of the specific medical or neuropsychiatric complications of alcoholism was associated with the Al allele. In conclusion, the severity of alcohol dependence in alcoholics and of substance use behaviors in controls are important variables in DRD2 allelic association. The present report and converging lines of evidence suggest that the DRD2 locus could represent a prominent gene risk factor for susceptibility to severe alcoholism. However, other genes and environmental factors, when combined, still play the larger role.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)729-744
Number of pages16
JournalAlcohol and Alcoholism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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