Dopamine D1, D2 and D3 receptor genes in alcohol dependence

Psychiatr Genet. 1995 Winter;5(4):171-6. doi: 10.1097/00041444-199524000-00004.


Hereditary factors play a substantial role in the etiology of alcohol dependence. Alcohol mediates its reinforcing effects by an activation of the mesolimbic dopamine system. These findings suggest that the genes encoding the dopamine receptor (DR) subtypes represent high-ranking candidates for susceptibility genes to addictive disorders. Our present population-based association study investigated whether sequence variants of the dopamine D1, D2 and D3 receptor genes confer susceptibility to alcohol dependence in 278 alcoholics, and clinically more homogeneous subgroups ascertained through positive family history, early age at onset, delirium, withdrawal seizures and antisocial tendencies. No evidence for an allelic association was found for the PCR-based TaqA RFLP fo the DRD2 gene and a Bsp1286I RFLP of the DRD1 gene. Without correction for multiple testing, we found a significantly increased allele frequency of a common DRD3 gene variant expressing a serine at position 9 in the extracellular N-terminal part of the receptor protein in 55 alcohol-dependent individuals with delirium (chi 2 = 4.1, df = 1, p = 0.042). Further studies have to examine whether this amino acid substitution or a nearby mutation confers genetic susceptibility to at least a subgroup of alcohol-dependent individuals with delirium.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium / genetics
  • Alcoholism / genetics*
  • Alleles
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Family
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / genetics*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / genetics*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D3
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Seizures / genetics


  • DRD3 protein, human
  • Genetic Markers
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Receptors, Dopamine D3