A Genetic Answer for Alcoholism

Scientists discover a gene linked to alcoholic symptoms and impulsive behaviors

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

(RxWiki News) In a recent study, researchers examined how genetic risk factors effect the brain and human behavior. The research found individuals who carry the GABRA2 gene often act on impulse, and may develop alcoholism.

The study's results showed that individuals with the GABRA2 gene acted more impulsive and had alcoholic behaviors. The GABRA2 risk gene is more common among women then men.

"Always inform your doctor or therapist the results of your blood test."

This research study was lead by Margit Burmeister, Ph.D., research professor at U-M's Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience. The study particpants were asked to participate in a gambling session. This allowed researchers to study the brain activity when responding to different situations.

The study authors stress that genetic risk factors do not act alone and simply having them does not mean that someone will become an alcoholic. This study's finding paves the way for further research and understanding of alcoholism.

In Depth

  • 449 people participated in this study
  • 129 of these individuals had a family member diagnosed with alcoholism
  • functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to observe changes of blood flow in the brains in some patients
  • individuals with one form of the GABRA2 gene showed significantly higher activation in the insula, an area of the brain associated with addction
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 14, 2011
Last Updated:
April 18, 2011