ADH and ALDH polymorphisms among Alaska Natives entering treatment for alcoholism

Alaska Med. 1999 Jan-Mar;41(1):9-12, 23.


The alcohol dehydrogenase (ADHs) and aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDHs) involved in alcohol metabolism are polymorphic. Different alleles encode subunits of the enzymes that are related to differences in alcohol metabolism with different ethnic groups. This study examined the allele frequencies at the ADH1, ADH2, ADH3 and ALDH2 loci in Alaska Natives entering treatment for alcoholism to determine if allele frequencies at these loci differ among five distinct Alaska Native groups: Yupik and Inupiat Eskimos, Athabascan, Tlingit and Aleut. It was found that all persons were homozygous for the ADH1*1, ADH2*1 and ALDH2*1 alleles. Variations, however, were found for the allele distribution of the ADH3 genotype. Comparison with a general population sample found no differences in allele distributions for ADHs and ALDH2*1, but differences were found when comparisons were made with four Asian Groups. The study's findings suggest that the Alaska Natives are not protected from the risk of alcoholism in the same way that Asians who possess the ALDH2*2 genotype are considered to have a negative risk factor. Nor, does there appear to be any generalized differences between Alaska Native alcoholics and members of the general population with respect to the ALDH and ADH polymorphisms studied herein.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alaska
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • Alcoholism / genetics*
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • Alleles
  • Ethanol / metabolism
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / genetics*
  • Inuit / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Racial Groups / genetics
  • Risk Factors


  • Ethanol
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase