Study Examines Role Chromosome 11 Plays in Alcohol Dependency

Alcohol dependency is an element of life worth researching to empower professionals to identify risk factors and proper prevention tools. Recent research by the Indiana University School of Medicine and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes that chromosome 11 could be partially responsible for alcohol dependency.

This genome-wide association study was part of a long-range research on alcohol dependence. Researchers found that a cluster of genes on chromosome 11 may incrementally add to a person’s risk for developing alcohol dependency, according to a post on Genome Web.

Howard Edenberg with Indiana University notes that evidence suggests this cluster has an impact on an individual’s dependence. The study showed that roughly 1 million genetic polymorphisms were analyzed in roughly 1,400 unrelated individuals. A follow-up was conducted on the most significant variants to see if they were associated in families, expressed in the brain or if patterns were altered by alcohol and several were.

“A number of the SNPs were in that region, and in that region are some genes that are expressed in the brain,” Edenberg said about his study. He notes that the evidence is suggestive, but is only a small piece of the overall puzzle.

It is important to note the chromosome 11 cluster is not the sole genetic cause of alcohol dependence, yet this study supports the findings of other researchers who have previously discovered genes that affect a person’s risk for alcohol dependency.

“There’s a fairly small increase — about 1.2 to 1.4 percent — in the risk of developing alcohol dependency with this cluster of genes,” Edenberg says. “This is a relatively small impact. But our current understanding is that it’s the accumulated effect of these small-impact genes, as well as a person’s environment, that add to the risk.”

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