Strong association of the alcohol dehydrogenase 1B gene (ADH1B) with alcohol dependence and alcohol-induced medical diseases

Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Sep 15;70(6):504-12. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.02.024. Epub 2011 Apr 17.


Background: The alcohol dehydrogenase 1B gene (ADH1B) is hypothesized to affect predisposition to alcohol dependence (AD) and abuse. A variant of the ADH1B gene (rs1229984 or Arg48His; previously referred to as Arg [*1] and His [*1]) has been reported to be associated with reduced rates of alcohol and drug dependence. Different studies have produced inconclusive results regarding association between rs1229984 (or rs2066702) and substance dependence.

Methods: Using the cumulative association study literature from the past 21 years from both English- and Chinese-language publications, this meta-analysis seeks to clarify the contradictory findings and to examine whether the aggregate data provide new evidence of significant association.

Results: The results, based on a large sample size (9638 cases and 9517 controls), suggested strong associations with alcohol dependence and abuse as well as alcohol-induced liver diseases, with an allelic (Arg vs. His) p value being 1 × 10(-36) and odds ratio (OR) (95% confidence intervals [CI]) 2.06 (1.84-2.31) under the random effects model. The dominant and recessive models produced larger ORs of 2.17 and 3.05, respectively. When more stringent criteria and subgroup analyses were imposed, the associations remained consistent and were strongest in various Asian groups (allelic p = 7 × 10(-42) and OR (95% CI) = 2.24 [1.99-2.51] with ORs of 2.16 and 4.11 for dominant and recessive models, respectively).

Conclusions: Our findings provide further strong evidence for the involvement of the ADH1B gene in the pathogenesis of alcohol dependence and abuse as well as for some alcohol-induced medical diseases in the multiple ethnic populations--in particular, certain Asian populations.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • Alcohol-Induced Disorders / complications
  • Alcohol-Induced Disorders / genetics*
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Alcoholism / genetics*
  • Ethnicity / genetics
  • Genetic Association Studies / statistics & numerical data
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Humans


  • ADH1B protein, human
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase