- Genetic factors account for a considerable portion of the risk for alcoholism.
- It is challenging to identify those genes and the specific variations.
- Case-control and family studies were used to identify genes related to the risk for alcohol.
- Different strategies such as candidate gene analyses and genome-wide association studies have been used.
- The strongest effects have been found for specific variants of genes that encode two enzymes involved in alcohol metabolism.
- The two enzyme are alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase.
- Alcohol dehydrogenases are a class of zinc enzymes which catalyze the oxidation of primary and secondary alcohols to the corresponding aldehyde or ketone.
- Aldehyde dehydrogenases are the workforce for several cellular processes, including detoxification of alcohol-derived acetaldehyde, and formation of essential molecules, such as retinoic acid.
- Accumulating evidence indicates that variations in numerous other genes have smaller but measurable effects.