Page last updated: Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Gene May be Linked to Binge-Drinking
Researchers have uncovered a genetic factor that could predispose certain youths to binge drinking, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

College students with a particular variant of the serotonin-transporter gene (5-HTT) drank more alcohol per occasion, drank more often just to get drunk, and were more likely to engage in binge drinking than students without the variant. The research was based on interviews with 262 college students, ages 17 to 23, about their alcohol consumption. The team of scientists then analysed the genetic profiles of the participants. The 5-HTT gene is involved in recycling the chemical serotonin after it is secreted into the synapse of a cell. Rather than having one long and one short variant of the serotonin transporter gene, study participants found to be predisposed to harmful drinking behaviour had duplicate copies of the short version.. "This research provides important new evidence that the risk of developing a maladaptive pattern of alcohol consumption is influenced by genetically determined neurobiological differences that exert their effects during young adulthood," said Ting-Kai Li, M.D., director of NIAAA. .

Source: Herman AI et al. SEROTONIN TRANSPORTER PROMOTER POLYMORPHISM AND DIFFERENCES IN ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION BEHAVIOUR IN A COLLEGE STUDENT POPULATION. Alcohol and Alcoholism 2003;38:446-9.

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