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Alcohol Dependence & AddictionGenetic Link Discovered   

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Research Finds Link Between Alcoholism, Depression
September 8, 2004 Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.

Scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine have identified a gene that may be connected to both alcoholism and depression, the Associated Press reported Sept. 8.

"Clinicians have observed a connection between these two disorders for years, so we are excited to have found what could be a molecular underpinning for that association," said Alison Goate, a psychiatric geneticist who led the study.

According to Goate, a variation or alteration of the CHRM2 gene appears to influence why some people are susceptible to alcoholism, others to depression, some to both diseases, and others to neither. The CHRM2 gene is involved in attention, learning, memory, and cognition.

The study's findings resulted from a DNA analysis of 2,310 people from 262 families in which at least three members were alcoholics. Some individuals in the families were also depressed alcoholics.

Goate said additional research is needed to determine any underlying biology for the two disorders. "What you want is to see someone obtain the same results in an independent study," she said.

The study's findings are published in the September 2004 issue of the Journal Human Molecular Genetics.

Wang, J. et al. (2004) Evidence of common and specific genetic effects: association of the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor M2 (CHRM2) gene with alcohol dependence and major depressive syndrome. Human Molecular Genetics, 13(17): 1903-1911.

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