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In This Section
Volume 43, Issue 5 (May 2005)


Alcohol and gene interactions

John B. Whitfield
  • Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, & Genetic Epidemiology Unit, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Australia
Published Online: 2005-07-05 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/CCLM.2005.086


Alcohol use produces both desirable and undesirable effects, ranging from short-term euphoria and reduction in cardiovascular risk, to violence, accidents, dependence and liver disease. Outcomes are affected by the amount of alcohol used (which is itself affected by genetic variation) and also by the drinker's genes. Genetic effects have been most clearly demonstrated for alcohol dependence, and several of the genes for which variation leads to increased dependence risk have been identified. These include genes for enzymes involved in alcohol metabolism (alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase), and genes for receptors affected by alcohol (particularly γ-aminobutyric acid receptors). Many other gene/dependence associations have been reported but not fully substantiated. Genetic effects on phenotypes other than alcohol dependence are less well understood, and need to be clarified before a full picture of gene-alcohol interactions can be achieved.

Keywords: alcohol drinking; alcoholism; genetic linkage; genetic polymorphism; genetic variation


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About the article

Corresponding author: Dr. J. B. Whitfield, Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown NSW 2050, Australia Phone: +61-2-9515-5246, Fax: +61-2-9515-7931, E-mail:

Received: 2005-01-14

Accepted: 2005-03-03

Published Online: 2005-07-05

Published in Print: 2005-05-01

Citation Information: Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM), ISSN (Online) 1437-4331, ISSN (Print) 1434-6621, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/CCLM.2005.086. Export Citation

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