Alcohol Dependence Depends on Metabolism

Alcohol dehydrogenase 1B and aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 affect alcohol dependence varies on gender

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Alcoholism can happen at any age in life and it seems like men and women react differently to alcohol dependence. A genetic variation may explain the difference.

Researchers have found a gender difference between the prevalence, characteristics and course of alcohol dependence (AD).

"Contact a therapist immediately if you are addicted to any substance."

Co-author Victor Hesselbrock, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, found that two proteins, alcohol dehydrogenase-1B (ADH1B) and aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 (ALDH2), affect AD differently depending on gender.

More specifically, they found that women can have increased risk of developing AD if they have inactive ALDH2.

Both proteins, ADH1B and ALDH2, are responsible for processing and eliminating alcohol that enters the body.

The researchers also found males with AD have more behavioral problems, while females tend to have co-existing psychiatric disorders like depression and anxiety. Hesselbrock explains that females tend to have a later onset but receive treatment sooner while the opposite is true for men.

Usually body size, body mass and exposure to alcohol is to blame for genetic differences in AD, but now Hesselbrock believes that genetic information like variations in ADH1B and ALDH2 can help explain the difference between sexes.

This research is important because it can provide potential treatment or diagnostic methods for clinical use because there are none available at the moment, Hesselbrock says.

The study included 615 participants who were hospitalized for AD in Kurihama Alcoholism Center.

The research will be published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research in November 2011.

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Review Date: 
August 16, 2011
Last Updated:
August 20, 2011