Genotyping of GABA Aa6 Receptors for Roles in Subjective Levels of Response to Ethanol
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Traditional approaches towards alcoholism research have been fragmented in scope. placing focus either solely on environmental and social influences or on hereditary factors. The two sides of research have, at times, seemed at odds with the other as many have chosen to support one notion and dismiss the other. The scientific community is now more unified than ever in the belief that the development of alcoholism results from the combinatory effects of many psychological and physiological elements (Schuckit et al, 1999). A more comprehensive understanding of alcoholism may be achieved by a concerted effort between psychologists and human geneticists. Such is the rationale behind a longitudinal study pioneered by Michigan State University and The University of Michigan, which aims to track alcoholics and their families over a 20-year period, studying the psychopathology of children of alcoholics in conjunction with tracking candidate hereditary alcoholism vulnerability factors. The history of experiences with and responses to alcohol are measured via a "Subjective Response to Ethanol" (SRE) questionnaire. While previous research connecting alcoholism and the GABA Aa6 variant have been made (Schuckit et al, 1999), this study is the first to track the GABA Aa6 variant and alcoholism within families. This is advantageous over previous studies, as the development of alcoholism in children of alcoholics (COA) determined to possess certain genetic risk factors (in this case, GABA Aa6) may be observed against the development of alcoholism in COA participants who are free of these risk factors. My contribution to this longitudinal study was to genotype participants for the GABA Aa6 variant and to analyze any connections with SRE information and any alcoholism that may exist. This study was begun approximately 15 years ago and revolves around the development of COA participants, many of whom are still too young to have begun alcohol consumption. Therefore SRE scores for many individuals are unavailable.