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Why Jews dip apples in honey on Rosh Hashanah — and why vegans say the custom is a problem. Request CV. Raised in the Seattle area, she came to Southern California to earn her undergraduate degree at Pitzer College in Claremont before moving east for graduate work. She received her M.

Hochman spent a year in Berlin as a post-doctoral fellow at the Moses Mendelssohn Zentrum and has continued to return to Germany regularly to research and lead classes. July , Spring , Refer a student. Skip to main content. The endogenous cannabinoid system is thought to regulate brain circuits using the neurotransmitter dopamine, which likely helps mediate the rewarding experiences associated with addictive substances.

The main cannabinoid receptor in the brain is called CB1 and is encoded by the CNR1 gene, which is located on chromosome 6.


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This gene is an excellent candidate gene for being associated with AOD dependence because the receptor encoded by this gene is crucial for generating the rewarding effects of the compound responsible for the psychoactive effects associated with cannabis use i. However, the findings regarding the association between CNR1 and AOD dependence to date have been equivocal, with some studies producing positive results e.

For both alcohol dependence and drug dependence, considerable evidence suggests that genetic factors influence the risk of these disorders, with heritability estimates of 50 percent and higher. Moreover, twin studies and studies of electrophysiological characteristics indicate that the risk of developing AOD dependence, as well as other disinhibitory disorders e.

Several genes have been identified that confer risk to AOD dependence. For other genes that appear to confer risk of AOD dependence—such as genes involved in alcohol metabolism and in the endogenous opioid and cannabinoid systems—however, the pathways through which they affect risk remain to be elucidated. Most of the genes reviewed in this article originally were found to be associated with alcohol dependence and only subsequently was their association with risk for dependence on other illicit drugs discovered as well.

Furthermore, studies that primarily aim to identify genes involved in dependence on certain types of drugs may identify different variants affecting risk, underscoring the challenge of understanding genetic susceptibility to different classes of drugs. This review does not exhaustively cover all genes that to date have been implicated in alcohol and illicit drug dependence.

In particular, the DRD2 gene has been associated with alcohol dependence Blum et al. This association remains controversial, however, and more recent studies suggest that the observed association actually may not involve variants in the DRD2 gene but variants in a neighboring gene called ANKK1 Dick et al. Studies to identify candidate genes that influence dependence on illicit drugs, but not on alcohol, are particularly challenging because of the high co-morbidity between alcohol dependence and dependence on illicit drugs.

Therefore, meaningful studies require large sample sizes to include enough drug-dependent people with no prior history of alcohol dependence. These include, for example, two genes encoding taste receptors i. Danielle M. Using the information obtained in the HapMap Project, researchers will be able to find genes that affect health, disease, and individual responses to medications and environmental factors. F inancial D isclosure. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Alcohol Res Health v. Alcohol Res Health. Dick , Ph.

Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. D anielle M. A rpana A grawal , P h. Louis, Missouri. Copyright notice. Unless otherwise noted in the text, all material appearing in this journal is in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission. Citation of the source is appreciated. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

Abstract Alcohol dependence and dependence on other drugs frequently co-occur, and strong evidence suggests that both disorders are, at least in part, influenced by genetic factors.

Open in a separate window. Identifying Specific Genes Related to AOD Dependence With robust evidence indicating that genes influence both alcohol dependence and dependence on illicit drugs, efforts now are underway to identify specific genes involved in the development of these disorders. This study has been joined by several other gene identification studies focusing on families affected with alcohol dependence, including the following: A sample of Southwestern American Indians Long et al.

Genes Encoding Proteins Involved in Alcohol Metabolism The genes that have been associated with alcohol dependence most consistently are those encoding the enzymes that metabolize alcohol chemically known as ethanol. Genes Encoding Proteins Involved in Neurotransmission AODs exert their behavioral effects in part by altering the transmission of signals among nerve cells i. Genes Involved in the Cholinergic System The cholinergic system includes neurons that either release the neurotransmitter acetylcholine or respond to it.

Genes Involved in the Endogenous Opioid System Endogenous opioids are small molecules naturally produced in the body that have similar effects as the opiates e. Genes Involved in the Endogenous Cannabinoid System Endogenous cannabinoids are compounds naturally produced in the body that have a similar structure to the psychoactive compounds found in the cannabis plant and which bind cannabinoid receptors. Conclusions For both alcohol dependence and drug dependence, considerable evidence suggests that genetic factors influence the risk of these disorders, with heritability estimates of 50 percent and higher.

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Acknowledgments Danielle M. Footnotes 1 For a definition of these and other terms, see the glossary, pp. F inancial D isclosure The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests. References Agrawal A, Lynskey M.

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The genetic epidemiology of cannabis use, abuse and dependence. Behavior Genetics. Association of an Asn40Asp AG polymorphism in the mu-opioid receptor gene with substance dependence: A meta-analysis. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Increased attributable risk related to a functional mu-opioid receptor gene polymorphism in association with alcohol dependence in central Sweden. A single nucleotide polymorphic mutation in the human mu-opioid receptor severely impairs receptor signaling. Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Mu opioid receptor gene variants: Lack of association with alcohol dependence. Molecular Psychiatry. Effect of the AG polymorphism on binding affinity, potency and agonist-mediated endocytosis, desensitization, and resensitization of the human mu-opioid receptor. Journal of Neurochemistry. Allelic association of human dopamine D2 receptor gene in alcoholism.

Reward deficiency syndrome. American Scientist.

Single nucleotide polymorphism in the human mu opioid receptor gene altes beta-endorphin binding and activity: Possible implications for opiate addiction. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. The role of GABRA2 in risk for conduct disorder and alcohol and drug dependence across developmental stages.

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A genome screen of maximum number of drinks as an alcoholism phenotype. Journal of Psychiatry Research. The Harvard Review of Psychiatry. Polysubstance abuse-vulnerability genes: Genome scans for association, using subjects and single-nucleotide polymorphisms.