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Reward-related genes and personality traits in alcohol-dependent individuals: a pilot case control study.

Journal article
Authors Sara Landgren
Kristina Berglund
Elisabeth Jerlhag
Claudia Fahlke
Jan Balldin
Ulf Berggren
Henrik Zetterberg
Kaj Blennow
Jörgen Engel
Published in Neuropsychobiology
Volume 64
Issue 1
Pages 38-46
ISSN 1423-0224
Publication year 2011
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Clinical Chemistry and Transfusion Medicine
Department of Psychology
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Pharmacology
Pages 38-46
Language en
Subject categories Psychiatry, Pharmacology and Toxicology


Components of the brain reward system, i.e. the mesolimbic dopamine, laterodorsal cholinergic and ghrelin signaling systems, have been implicated in alcohol reward in preclinical studies. Genetic variants of these systems have previously been linked to alcohol dependence. Here, we genotyped 31 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs): 1 SNP in the dopamine D(2) receptor (DRD2) gene, 20 SNPs in 5 different nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit (CHRN*) genes, and 10 SNPs in the genes encoding pro-ghrelin (GHRL) and its receptor (GHSR), in a pilot study of type 1 alcoholics (n = 84) and healthy controls (n = 32). These individuals were characterized using the Temperament and Character Inventory. None of the SNPs were associated with risk of alcohol dependence in this population. The GG genotype of SNP rs13261190 in the CHRNB3 was associated with increased novelty seeking, while SNPs of the ghrelin signaling system were associated with decreased self-directedness (AA of rs495225, GHSR) and alterations in self-transcendence (AA of both rs42451 and rs35680, GHRL). In conclusion, this pilot study suggests that reward-related genes are associated with altered personality scores in type 1 alcohol dependence, which warrants future studies of these associations in larger study samples.

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