Association of polymorphisms in RGS4 and expression of RGS transcripts in the brains of human alcoholics

Brain Res. 2010 Jun 22:1340:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2010.04.049. Epub 2010 Apr 27.


Chronic alcoholism leads to neurotoxic effects in the central nervous system. Neuroadaptive changes in the brain may lead to tolerance to, and dependence on, alcohol as a result of alterations in synaptic complexity. G-proteins are negatively regulated by RGS proteins, which are integral to many neural pathways that include neurotransmission, hormonal responses, and chemotactic signals. These considerations, together with findings from microarray analyses of human autopsy brain, suggest that proteins involved in G-protein signalling, specifically the RGS protein family, may play an important role in the functioning of neural systems that are affected by chronic alcohol abuse. We used Real Time PCR to measure the expression of two members of the RGS family, RGS4 and RGS7, in the superior frontal gyrus and primary motor cortex from alcoholic and non-alcoholic cases. Overall, cirrhotic alcoholics had lower expression levels of RGS4 mRNA than controls and non-cirrhotic alcoholics. We also report that the four RGS4 SNPs (SNP1, 4, 7 and 18) may be associated with alcoholism in European Caucasians at the haplotype level. The haplotype T-C-G (SNP1-4-18) may exert a protective effect against alcoholism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / genetics*
  • Alcoholism / metabolism
  • Brain Chemistry / genetics*
  • Female
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / genetics*
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics*
  • RGS Proteins / genetics*
  • RGS Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics


  • RGS Proteins
  • RGS7 protein, human
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RGS4 protein
  • GTP-Binding Proteins