Association study of Catechol-o-methyltransferase and Alpha-1-adrenergic receptor gene polymorphisms with multiple phenotypes of heroin use disorder

Neurosci Lett. 2021 Mar 23;748:135677. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2021.135677. Epub 2021 Feb 9.


Heroin use disorder is a chronic relapsing brain disease containing multiple phenotypes. These phenotypes vary among heroin users and might be influenced by genetic factors. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) and alpha-1-adrenergic receptor (ADRA1A) genes are associated with heroin use disorder. However, it has not been clarified which phenotypes of heroin use disorder are related to these genes. To address this question, we recruited 801 unrelated heroin users and divided them into different subgroups according to four important phenotypes of heroin use disorder. Then 7 SNPs in the functional region of these genes were systematically screened and genotyped using a SNaPshot assay. We found that the A allele of ADRA1A rs1048101 was associated with a shorter duration of transition from first use to addiction. Subjects with the C allele of ADRA1A rs3808585 were more susceptible to memory impairment after heroin use disorder. Subjects with the G allele of COMT rs769224 were more likely to take a higher dose of heroin every day. Our study confirmed the association between polymorphisms of COMT and ADRA1A with those specific phenotypes of heroin use disorder, which will be instructive for the precise treatment of the disease.

Keywords: Addiction phenotypes; Alpha-1-adrenergic receptors (ADRA1A); Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT); Heroin use disorder; Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency / genetics
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Genotype
  • Heroin / adverse effects*
  • Heroin / metabolism
  • Heroin Dependence / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics


  • Heroin
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase