Is there a genetic relationship between alcoholism and depression?

Alcohol Res Health. 2002;26(3):233-40.


The Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) seeks to identify genes contributing to alcoholism and related traits (i.e., phenotypes), including depression. Among alcoholic subjects the COGA study found an increased prevalence of depressive syndrome (i.e., depression that may or may not occur in conjunction with increased drinking). This combination of alcoholism and depression tends to run in families. Comorbid alcoholism and depression occurred substantially more often in first-degree relatives of COGA participants with alcoholism than in relatives of control participants. Based on these data, COGA investigators defined three phenotypes--"alcoholism," "alcoholism and depression," and "alcoholism or depression"--and analyzed whether these phenotypes were linked to specific chromosomal regions. These analyses found that the "alcoholism or depression" phenotype showed significant evidence for genetic linkage to an area on chromosome 1. This suggests that a gene or genes on chromosome 1 may predispose some people to alcoholism and others to depression (which may be alcohol induced).

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / complications*
  • Alcoholism / genetics*
  • Depression / complications*
  • Depression / genetics*
  • Gene Expression / genetics
  • Genetic Linkage*
  • Humans
  • Phenotype