The DRD4 VNTR polymorphism moderates craving after alcohol consumption

Health Psychol. 2002 Mar;21(2):139-46.


Recent research has suggested that alterations in mesolimbic dopamine neurotransmission are central to the development and expression of craving for alcohol. Because the D4 dopamine receptor gene, variable numbers of tandem repeats (DRD4 VNTR) polymorphism putatively expresses functional differences in dopamine receptors, the present study tested whether this polymorphism influences the effects of a priming dose of alcohol on craving. Participants consumed 3 alcoholic drinks or 3 control drinks and completed measures of craving after each drink. Participants who were homozygous or heterozygous for the 7 (or longer) repeat allele were classified as DRD4 L, whereas the other participants were classified as DRD4 S. Results suggested that DRD4 L participants demonstrated significantly higher craving after consumption of alcohol as compared with the control beverage.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / genetics*
  • Alcoholism / genetics*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Behavior, Addictive / genetics
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minisatellite Repeats
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / genetics*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D4


  • DRD4 protein, human
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Receptors, Dopamine D4
  • Ethanol