Association of the A1 allele of the D2 dopamine receptor gene with severe alcoholism

Alcohol. 1991 Sep-Oct;8(5):409-16. doi: 10.1016/0741-8329(91)90693-q.


In a blinded study, 159 subjects composed of nonalcoholics (N = 43), less severe alcoholics (N = 44), severe alcoholics (N = 52) and young children of alcoholics (CoAs, N = 20) were studied for their allelic association with the D2 dopamine receptor (D2DR) gene utilizing peripheral lymphocytes as the DNA source. The combined alcoholic group compared to the nonalcoholic group showed a significantly greater association with the A1 allele of the D2DR gene. Furthermore, an even more robust association was found when severe alcoholics were compared to nonalcoholics. CoAs also showed a significantly greater association with the A1 allele than nonalcoholics but not when compared to alcoholics. Analysis of risk of alcoholism severity suggests that it comprises of two independent components: family history of alcoholism and presence of the A1 allele. Genotype and allelic frequency of the D2DR gene were also analyzed with respect to race. A higher percentage of blacks compared to whites had the A1/A1 genotype, and A1 allelic frequency in the total sample of blacks was significantly greater than in the total sample of whites. Moreover, frequency of the A1 allele was significantly greater in severe alcoholics compared to nonalcoholics in both whites and blacks. However, due to the small sample size of blacks, these racial differences need to be further studied. This study, of the largest sample of alcoholics to date, strongly affirms association of severe alcoholism with the A1 allele of the D2DR gene.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / genetics*
  • Alleles*
  • Base Sequence
  • Black People / genetics
  • Child
  • DNA / analysis
  • DNA / chemistry
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Receptors, Dopamine / genetics*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • White People / genetics


  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • DNA