Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci.  2014 Aug;12(2):142-148.

GABA Receptors Genes Polymorphisms and Alcohol Dependence: No Evidence of an Association in an Italian Male Population

  • 1School of Medicine, Forensic Toxicology and Antidoping, University Hospital of Padova, Padova, Italy.


OBJECTIVE: The genes encoding for gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) A and B receptors may be considered as candidates for alcoholism; genetic alterations at this level may produce structural and functional diversity and thus play a role in the response to alcohol addiction treatment. To investigate these aspects further, we conducted a preliminary genetic association study on a population of Italian male alcohol addicts, focusing on GABA A and B receptors.
A total of 186 alcohol-dependent subjects (in the first phase 139, then 47 more samples) and 182 controls were genotyped for 25 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of genes encoding the alpha-1 subunit of GABA A receptor (GABRA1) and subunits 1 and 2 of GABA B receptor (GABBR1 and GABBR2). The chi-squared test for allele and genotype distributions and Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium analysis of both subjects and controls were performed. Bonferroni's correction for multiple comparisons was applied.
Preliminary results comparing 139 alcohol-dependent subjects and 182 controls showed differences in genotype distribution in the former for SNP rs29253, located in the intron region of the GABBR1 gene. In order to clarify the meaning of this association, 47 more samples from alcohol-dependent subjects were tested for this SNP only: the previously found association was not confirmed.
The lack of significant differences between the two groups does not provide evidence that GABRA 1 and GABBR1 and 2 genes are candidates for alcoholism in this population. Further studies with larger samples are needed, together with investigation of other components of the GABA pathway.


Alcohol dependence; gamma-Aminobutyric acid receptors; GABRA1; GABBR1; GABBR2
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