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Low Alcohol Tolerance Linked to Gene

Researchers say they’ve identified a gene that makes some people more sensitive to the effects of alcohol, the BBC News reported Oct. 19.

University of North Carolina investigators conducted a genome analysis of 200 sibling pairs who had one parent with alcohol dependence but no alcohol problems themselves. Participants were then given the equivalent of three alcoholic drinks and asked to describe the effects. Their descriptions were compared with their genetic test results.

The researchers found that participants with the gene CYP2E1 on chromosome 10 were less able to “hold their liquor” than participants without it. The CYP2E1 gene is known to affect the way alcohol is metabolized in the brain.

“Alcoholism is a very complex disease, and there are lots of complicated reasons why people drink. This may be just one of the reasons,” said Kirk Wilhelmsen, MD, PhD, lead author of the study.

Still, the researchers see the potential for developing a synthetic version of the gene to increase alcohol sensitivity — and thus decrease consumption — in the future.

“Obviously we are a long way off having a treatment,” concluded Wilhelmsen. “But the gene we have found tells us a lot.”

The study was published online Oct. 19 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

From; Join Together.


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