Dopamine (DA) neurotransmission through D2 receptors (DRD2) has been implicated in the regulation of reward processing, cognition and the effects of drugs of abuse, and also has significant effects in responses to stressors and salient aversive stimuli. An examination of the influence of genetic variation across multiple psychophysical measures therefore appears critical to understand the neurobiology of DA-modulated complex personality traits and psychiatric illnesses. To examine interindividual variation in the function of DRD2 modulated mechanisms in healthy humans, we used a haplotype-based and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) investigation. Their effects were interrogated with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during reward and emotional processing. We found that a haplotype block composed by two SNPs, rs4274224 and rs4581480, affected the hemodynamic responses of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) during reward expectation and the subgenual anterior cingulate cortices (sgACC) during implicit emotional processing. Exploratory analysis within the significant haplotype block revealed the same functional effects only for the SNP rs4274224. Further analysis on rs4274224 using functional connectivity and positron emission tomography (PET) measures of DA D2/3 receptor mediated neurotransmission confirmed a gene effect on the functional connectivity of the DLPFC during reward anticipation and subcortical stress induced dopamine release. At a phenotypic trait level, significant effects of genotype were obtained for the NEO PI-R “Openness to Experience” and further correlated with neuroimaging data. Overall, these results show significant neurobiological effects of genotype variation in DRD2 on multiple functional domains, such as emotional, stress and reward processing. As such, it contributes to normal variation and potentially to vulnerability to psychopathology associated with those functions, such as risk for mood and substance use disorders.
imaging; dopamine; DLPFC; reward; emotion
Alcoholism is a significant public health problem. A picture of the genetic architecture underlying alcohol-related phenotypes is emerging from genome-wide association studies and work on genetically tractable model organisms.
Addiction; alcohol sensitivity; disease susceptibility; genome-wide association studies; human genetics; model organisms
Abnormalities of motivation and behavior in the context of reward are a fundamental component of addiction and mood disorders. Here we test the effect of a functional missense mutation in the dopamine 3 receptor (DRD3) gene (ser9gly, rs6280) on reward-associated dopamine (DA) release in the striatum. Twenty-six healthy controls (HCs) and 10 unmedicated subjects with major depressive disorder (MDD) completed two positron emission tomography (PET) scans with [11C]raclopride using the bolus plus constant infusion method. On one occasion subjects completed a sensorimotor task (control condition) and on another occasion subjects completed a gambling task (reward condition). A linear regression analysis controlling for age, sex, diagnosis, and self-reported anhedonia indicated that during receipt of unpredictable monetary reward the glycine allele was associated with a greater reduction in D2/3 receptor binding (i.e., increased reward-related DA release) in the middle (anterior) caudate (p<0.01) and the ventral striatum (p<0.05). The possible functional effect of the ser9gly polymorphism on DA release is consistent with previous work demonstrating that the glycine allele yields D3 autoreceptors that have a higher affinity for DA and display more robust intracellular signaling. Preclinical evidence indicates that chronic stress and aversive stimulation induce activation of the DA system, raising the possibility that the glycine allele, by virtue of its facilitatory effect on striatal DA release, increases susceptibility to hyperdopaminergic responses that have previously been associated with stress, addiction, and psychosis.
Mesoaccumbal and nigrostriatal projections are sensitive to stress, and heightened stress sensitivity is thought to confer risk for neuropsychiatric disorders. Serotonin 2C (5-HT2C) receptors mediate the inhibitory effects of serotonin on dopaminergic circuitry in experimental animals, and preclinical findings have implicated 5-HT2C receptors in motivated behaviors and psychotropic drug mechanisms. In humans, a common missense single-nucleotide change (rs6318, Cys23Ser) in the 5-HT2C receptor gene (HTR2C) has been associated with altered activity in vitro and with clinical mood disorders. We hypothesized that dopaminergic circuitry would be more sensitive to stress in humans carrying the Ser23 variant. To test this hypothesis, we studied 54 healthy humans using positron emission tomography and the displaceable D2/D3 receptor radiotracer [11C]raclopride. Binding potential (BPND) was quantified before and after a standardized stress challenge consisting of 20 minutes of moderate deep muscular pain, and reduction in BPND served as an index of dopamine release. The Cys23Ser variant was genotyped on a custom array, and ancestry informative markers were used to control for population stratification. We found greater dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens, caudate nucleus, and putamen among Ser23 carriers, after controlling for sex, age, and ancestry. Genotype accounted for 12% of the variance in dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens. There was no association of Cys23Ser with baseline BPND. These findings indicate that a putatively functional HTR2C variant (Ser23) is associated with greater striatal dopamine release during pain in healthy humans. Mesoaccumbal stress sensitivity may mediate the effects of HTR2C variation on risk of neuropsychiatric disorders.
Previous studies have suggested that polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) influences responses to serotonergic manipulation, with opposite effects in patients recovered from depression (rMDD) and controls. Here we sought to clarify the neurocognitive mechanisms underpinning these surprising results. Twenty controls and 23 rMDD subjects completed the study; functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and genotype data were available for 17 rMDD subjects and 16 controls. Following tryptophan or sham depletion, subjects performed an emotional-processing task during fMRI. Although no genotype effects on mood were identified, significant genotype*diagnosis*depletion interactions were observed in the hippocampus and subgenual cingulate in response to emotionally valenced words. In both regions, tryptophan depletion increased responses to negative words, relative to positive words, in high-expression controls, previously identified as being at low-risk for mood change following this procedure. By contrast, in higher-risk low-expression controls and high-expression rMDD subjects, tryptophan depletion had the opposite effect. Increased neural responses to negative words following tryptophan depletion may reflect an adaptive mechanism promoting resilience to mood change following perturbation of the serotonin system, which is reversed in sub-groups vulnerable to developing depressive symptoms. However, this interpretation is complicated by our failure to replicate previous findings of increased negative mood following tryptophan depletion.
Depression; serotonin transporter polymorphism (5-HTTLPR); acute tryptophan depletion; functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); emotional processing
The Revised Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-R) has shown a moderate association with violence. The efficacy of PCL-R in varying monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) genotypes is, however, unexamined. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of PCL-R and psychopathy on the risk for violent reconvictions among 167 MAOA genotyped alcoholic offenders. Violent reconvictions and PCL-R scores among violent offenders were assessed after a 7-year non-incarcerated follow-up. Regression analysis was used to evaluate the alcohol exposure and age-adjusted effect of PCL-R score and psychopathy on the risk for reconvictions among differing MAOA genotypes. Results suggest that the PCL-R total score predicts impulsive reconvictions among high-activity MAOA offenders (6.8% risk increase for every one-point increase in PCL-R total score, P=0.015), but not among low-activity MAOA offenders, whereas antisocial behavior and attitudes predicted reconvictions in both genotypes (17% risk increase among high-activity MAOA offenders and 12.8% increase among low-activity MAOA offenders for every one-point increase in factor 2 score). Both narcissistic self-image with related interpersonal style (factor 1 score) and psychopathy (PCL-R≥30) failed to predict future violence. Results suggest that the efficacy of PCL-R is altered by MAOA genotype, alcohol exposure, and age, which seems important to note when PCL-R is used for risk assessments that will have legal or costly preventive work consequences.
Monoamine oxidase; Psychopathology; Antisocial personality disorder; Borderline personality disorder; Personality inventory; Violent crimes; Alcoholism
The short allele of the serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) moderates the effects of stress on vulnerability to mood and anxiety disorders. The mechanism by which this occurs may relate to differential sensitivity to stressful life events. Here we explored whether 5-HTTLPR and sex affected behavioral responses to repeated maternal separation in infant rhesus macaques. Behaviors were collected during the acute (Day 1) and the chronic (Days 2–4) phases of the separation, and the effects of duration of separation (acute vs. chronic), genotype (long/long vs. short allele), and sex (male vs. female) on behavioral responses were analyzed across four successive separations. Males increased their levels of locomotion with repeated maternal separation, whereas females exhibited an increase in frequency of self-directed behavior, a measure of “depression-like” behavior. The short-allele predicted increased environmental exploration, particularly during the chronic phase of social separation, indicative of higher arousal. In addition, the short-allele carriers were more likely to increase their levels of self-directed behavior during the chronic phase of separation, as a function of repeated exposures. These findings suggest that the short allele may increase reactivity to repeated, chronic stressors, leaving them more vulnerable to affective psychopathology, with females particularly vulnerable.
Childhood trauma is associated with hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis dysregulation. Both factors increase risk for suicidal behavior. Corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) regulates the HPA axis and its actions are moderated by a high-affinity binding protein (CRHBP). We hypothesized that CRHBP variation and interaction with childhood trauma might influence suicidal behavior. Moreover, there might be an additive effect with FKPB5, another HPA axis gene previously associated with suicidality in this dataset. African Americans were recruited: 398 treatment seeking patients with substance dependence (90% men; 120 suicide attempters) and 432 non-substance dependent individuals (40% men; 21 suicide attempters). A total of 474 participants (112 suicide attempters) completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ). Haplotype-tagging SNPs were genotyped across CRHBP and, for completeness, across CRH, CRHR1 and CRHR2. FKBP5 genotypes were available. Three CRHBP SNPs rs6453267, rs7728378 and rs10474485 showed a nominally significant interaction with the continuous CTQ score to predict suicide attempt; rs7728378 remained significant after FDR correction. There was an additive effect with FKBP5: in the group exposed to high trauma, the prevalence of suicide attempt was 0.35–0.30 in carriers of either the FKBP5 rs3800373 major homozygote or the CRHBP rs7728378 major homozygote and 0.58 in carriers of both major homozygotes. Individuals without either major homozygote were resilient to the effects of childhood trauma (suicide attempt prevalence 0.24). Main effects of CRHBP rs6453267 and CRHR1 rs9900679, both unique to African ancestry, were detected. CRHBP variation may predispose, independently and additively, to suicidal behavior in individuals who have experienced childhood trauma.
African Americans; Substance dependence; CTQ; CRH; CRHR1; CRHR2
Substance use disorder; Heritability; MAOA; COMT; HTR2B
Inflammatory cytokines including the IL-1 family, TNF-α and IL-6 mediate the formation of thrombosis on the luminal surface of atherosclerotic plaques. Gene polymorphisms that regulate these cytokines’ expression may explain part of the variation in susceptibility to stroke in patients with carotid atherosclerosis. The aim of this study is to evaluate the role of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and haplotypes in inflammatory genes as they relate to symptomatic carotid atherosclerosis.
The study included 95 subjects with symptomatic (transient ischemic attacks (TIA) or stroke) and 113 subjects with asymptomatic carotid atherosclerotic disease. A panel of evenly spaced SNPs including previously reported functionally significant polymorphisms were genotyped for IL-1β (10 SNPs), IL-1α (9 SNPs), IL-1RN (11 SNPs), IL-6 (7 SNPs) and TNF-α and TNF-β (7 SNPs).
Using single SNP analysis, IL-1RN rs315934 (p=0.025), IL-1RN rs315946 (p=0.042), IL-1RN rs315921 (p=0.035), IL-6 rs1180243 (p=0.018), and IL-1α rs2071373 (p=0.025) were associated with decreased odds of symptomatic carotid disease. Additionally, two diplotypes of the IL-1RN gene (p=0.023 and p=0.0064) and one diplotype in the IL-1α gene (p=0.02) were associated with a protective affect from cerebral ischemic events. Logistic analysis for interaction of the protective SNPs reveal an additive effect of all SNP pair combinations.
These results suggest genetic polymorphisms in pro-inflammatory genes may contribute to inter-individual differences in the development of symptomatic carotid atherosclerotic disease.
stroke; atherosclerosis; inflammatory; immune genes; single nucleotide polymorphism; haplotype
Childhood trauma may predispose individuals to aggressive behavior, and both childhood trauma and aggressive behavior are associated with hypothalamicpituitary-adrenal axis dysregulation.
To determine whether there would be an interaction between genetic variation in FKBP5 and childhood trauma in predicting aggressive behavior.
Cross-sectional study. Four FKBP5 single-nucleotide polymorphisms used in previous studies (rs3800373, rs9296158, rs1360780, and rs9470080) were genotyped. Three diplotypes were derived from 2 major putatively functional haplotypes regulating protein expression that were previously associated with glucocorticoid receptor sensitivity.
Penitentiary District of Abruzzo-Molise in central Italy.
A population of 583 male Italian prisoners recruited between 2005 and 2008.
Main Outcome Measures
A comprehensive analysis of aggression and impulsivity was undertaken using the Brown-Goodwin Lifetime History of Aggression (BGHA) questionnaire, the Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory (BDHI), and the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS). A history of childhood trauma was investigated with the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. The interaction between the FKBP5 diplotypes and childhood trauma on measures of aggression was analyzed. Analyses were replicated with a second behavioral measure of aggression: violent behavior in jail. Individual single-nucleotide polymorphism analysis was performed.
Childhood trauma had a significant effect on BGHA and BDHI scores but not on BIS scores. We observed a significant influence of the FKBP5 high-expression diplotype on both a lifetime history of aggressive behavior (BGHA) (P = .012) and violent behavior in jail (P = .025) but only in individuals exposed to childhood trauma, in particular to physical abuse. No main effect of the FKBP5 diplotypes was observed.
These data suggest that childhood trauma and variants in the FKBP5 gene may interact to increase the risk of overt aggressive behavior.
Emotion is critical to most aspects of human behavior, and individual differences in systems recruited to process emotional stimuli, expressed as variation in emotionality, are characteristic of several neuropsychiatric disorders. We examine the genetic origins of individual differences in emotion processing by focusing on functional variants at five genes: catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT), serotonin transporter (SLC6A4), neuropeptide Y (NPY), a glucocorticoid receptor-regulating co-chaperone of stress proteins (FKBP5) and pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP). These represent a range of effects of genes on emotion as well as the variety of mechanisms and factors, such as stress, that modify these effects. The new genomic era of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and deep sequencing may yield a wealth of new loci modulating emotion. The effects of these genes can be validated by neuroimaging, neuroendocrine and other studies accessing intermediate phenotypes, deepening our understanding of mechanisms of emotion and variation in emotionality.
Addictive disorders are partly heritable, chronic, relapsing conditions that account for a tremendous disease burden. Currently available addiction pharmacotherapies are only moderately successful, continue to be viewed with considerable scepticism outside the scientific community and have not become widely adopted as treatments. More effective medical treatments are needed to transform addiction treatment and address currently unmet medical needs. Emerging evidence from alcoholism research suggests that no single advance can be expected to fundamentally change treatment outcomes. Rather, studies of opioid, corticotropin-releasing factor, GABA and serotonin systems suggest that incremental advances in treatment outcomes will result from an improved understanding of the genetic heterogeneity among patients with alcohol addiction, and the development of personalized treatments.
Schizophrenia and nicotine addiction are both highly heritable phenotypes. Because individuals with schizophrenia have a higher rate of smoking than those in the general population, one could hypothesize that genes associated with smoking might be over-represented in schizophrenia and thus help explain their increased smoking incidence. Although a number of genes have been proposed to explain the increased smoking risk in schizophrenia, none of them have been consistently linked to smoking and schizophrenia and thus difficult to explain the increased smoking in schizophrenia. A functional smoking-related nicotinic acetylcholine receptor α5 subunit gene (CHRNA5) nonsynonymous SNP rs16969968 (Asp398Asn) has recently been discovered and replicated. As such, we tested whether this variant contributes to smoking in schizophrenia in a sample of 313 schizophrenia patients and 525 controls. The Asp398Asn risk allele is significantly associated with smoking severity independently in schizophrenia patient smokers (p=0.001) and in control smokers (p=0.029). Furthermore, the same risk allele is significantly associated with schizophrenia in both Caucasian (p=0.022) and African American (p=0.006) nonsmoker schizophrenia patients compared to control nonsmokers. Intriguing, this SNP was not significantly associated with smoking status (smokers vs. nonsmokers) in either schizophrenia patients or controls. Therefore, our study identifies a genetic variant that is simultaneously linked to smoking and schizophrenia in the same cohort, but whether and how this SNP contributes to the increased smoking prevalence in schizophrenia patients requires additional studies.
smoking; nicotine addiction; schizophrenia; nAChR; alpha5; comorbidity
As a model organism in biomedicine, the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) is the most widely used nonhuman primate. Although a draft genome sequence was completed in 2007, there has been no systematic genome-wide comparison of genetic variation of this species to humans. Comparative analysis of functional and nonfunctional diversity in this highly abundant and adaptable non-human primate could inform its use as a model for human biology, and could reveal how variation in population history and size alters patterns and levels of sequence variation in primates.
We sequenced the mRNA transcriptome and H3K4me3-marked DNA regions in hippocampus from 14 humans and 14 rhesus macaques. Using equivalent methodology and sampling spaces, we identified 462,802 macaque SNPs, most of which were novel and disproportionately located in the functionally important genomic regions we had targeted in the sequencing. At least one SNP was identified in each of 16,797 annotated macaque genes. Accuracy of macaque SNP identification was conservatively estimated to be >90%. Comparative analyses using SNPs equivalently identified in the two species revealed that rhesus macaque has approximately three times higher SNP density and average nucleotide diversity as compared to the human. Based on this level of diversity, the effective population size of the rhesus macaque is approximately 80,000 which contrasts with an effective population size of less than 10,000 for humans. Across five categories of genomic regions, intergenic regions had the highest SNP density and average nucleotide diversity and CDS (coding sequences) the lowest, in both humans and macaques. Although there are more coding SNPs (cSNPs) per individual in macaques than in humans, the ratio of dN/dS is significantly lower in the macaque. Furthermore, the number of damaging nonsynonymous cSNPs (have damaging effects on protein functions from PolyPhen-2 prediction) in the macaque is more closely equivalent to that of the human.
This large panel of newly identified macaque SNPs enriched for functionally significant regions considerably expands our knowledge of genetic variation in the rhesus macaque. Comparative analysis reveals that this widespread, highly adaptable species is approximately three times as diverse as the human but more closely equivalent in damaging variation.
Rhesus macaque; Human; Single nucleotide polymorphism; Diversity; Comparative genomics
The μ-opioid receptor is involved in the rewarding effects of not only opioids like morphine but also psychostimulants like amphetamine. This study aimed to investigate associations between subjective response to amphetamine and genetic polymorphisms and haplotypes in the μ-opioid receptor including the exonic variant rs1799971 (Asp40Asn). 162 Caucasian volunteers participated in three sessions receiving either placebo or d-amphetamine (10 and 20 mg). Associations between levels of self-reported Euphoria, Energy and Stimulation (ARCI-49) after d-amphetamine ingestion and polymorphisms in OPRM1 were investigated. The intronic SNPs rs510769 and rs2281617 were associated with significantly higher ratings of Euphoria, Energy and Stimulation after 10 mg amphetamine. Feelings of Euphoria, Energy and Stimulation were also found to be associated with a 2-SNP haplotype formed with rs1799971 and rs510769 and a 3-SNP haplotype formed with rs1918760, rs2281617 and rs1998220. These results support the hypothesis that genetic variability in the μ-opioid receptor gene influences the subjective effects of amphetamine and may suggest new strategies for prevention and treatment of psychostimulant abuse.
amphetamine; euphoria; energy; stimulation; μ-opioid receptor; inter-individual differences
The 5-HT3 receptor is rapidly potentiated by ethanol and mediates fast excitatory 5-HT transmission that modulates dopamine release in the reward circuitry. The 5-HT transporter regulates synaptic 5-HT availability. Functional polymorphisms in genes encoding the transporter and receptor may therefore influence addiction vulnerability. In this study, 360 treatment-seeking African American male patients with single and comorbid DSM-IV lifetime diagnoses of alcohol, cocaine and heroin dependence and 187 African American male controls were genotyped for the triallelic 5-HTTLPR functional polymorphism in the 5-HT transporter gene (SLC6A4) and 16 haplotype-tagging SNPs across HTR3B (including the functional rs1176744 Tyr129Ser) and HTR3A, genes encoding 5-HT3 receptors. The HTR3B rs1176744 gain of function Ser129 allele predicted alcohol dependence (p = 0.002) and low 5-HTTLPR activity predicted cocaine/heroin dependence (p = 0.01). Both the HTR3B Ser129 allele (p = 0.014, OR = 1.7 [1.1–2.6]) and low 5-HTTLPR activity (p = 0.011, OR = 2.5 [1.3–4.6]) were more common in men with alcohol + drug dependence compared with controls. Moreover, the HTR3B Ser129 allele and low 5-HTTLPR activity had an additive (but not an interactive) effect on alcohol + drug dependence (OR = 6.0 [2.1–16.6]) that accounted for 13% of the variance. One possible explanation of our findings is that increased synaptic 5-HT coupled with increased 5-HT3 receptor responsiveness may result in enhanced dopamine transmission in the reward pathway, a predictor of increased risk for addiction. Our results may have pharmacogenetic implications for 5-HT3 therapeutic antagonists such as ondansetron.
5-HTTLPR; HTR3B; rs1176744; alcoholism; cocaine; heroin
This analysis is a follow-up to an earlier investigation of 182 genes selected as likely candidate genetic variations conferring susceptibility to anorexia nervosa (AN). As those initial case-control results revealed no statistically significant differences in single nucleotide polymorphisms, herein we investigate alternative phenotypes associated with AN. In 1762 females using regression analyses we examined: (1) lowest illness-related attained body mass index; (2) age at menarche; (3) drive for thinness; (4) body dissatisfaction; (5) trait anxiety; (6) concern over mistakes; and (7) the anticipatory worry and pessimism vs. uninhibited optimism subscale of the harm avoidance scale. After controlling for multiple comparisons, no statistically significant results emerged. Although results must be viewed in the context of limitations of statistical power, the approach illustrates a means of potentially identifying genetic variants conferring susceptibility to AN because less complex phenotypes associated with AN are more proximal to the genotype and may be influenced by fewer genes.
covariates; eating disorders; association studies; personality; genetic
Chitin, a polymer of N-acetylglucosamine, is an essential component of the fungal cell wall. Chitosan, a deacetylated form of chitin, is also important in maintaining cell wall integrity and is essential for Cryptococcus neoformans virulence. In their article, Gilbert et al. [N. M. Gilbert, L. G. Baker, C. A. Specht, and J. K. Lodge, mBio 3(1):e00007-12, 2012] demonstrate that the enzyme responsible for chitosan synthesis, chitin deacetylase (CDA), is differentially attached to the cell membrane and wall. Bioactivity is localized to the cell membrane, where it is covalently linked via a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor. Findings from this study significantly enhance our understanding of cryptococcal cell wall biology. Besides the role of chitin in supporting structural stability, chitin and host enzymes with chitinase activity have an important role in host defense and modifying the inflammatory response. Thus, chitin appears to provide a link between the fungus and host that involves both innate and adaptive immune responses. Recently, there has been increased attention to the role of chitinases in the pathogenesis of allergic inflammation, especially asthma. We review these findings and explore the possible connection between fungal infections, the induction of chitinases, and asthma.
The corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) system coordinates neuroendocrine and behavioral responses to stress and has been implicated in the development of major depressive disorder (MDD). Recent reports suggest that GG-homozygous individuals of a single nucleotide polymorphism (rs110402) in the CRH receptor 1 (CRHR1) gene show behavioral and neuroendocrine evidence of stress vulnerability. The present study explores whether those observations extend to the neuronal processing of emotional stimuli in humans. CRHR1 was genotyped in 83 controls and preliminary sample of 16 unmedicated patients with MDD who completed a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan while viewing blocks of positive, negative, and neutral words. In addition, potential mediating factors such as early life stress, sex, personality traits, and negative memory bias were examined. Robust differences in blood oxygenation-level dependent (BOLD) signal were found in healthy controls (A allele carriers > GG-homozygotes) while viewing negative versus neutral words in the right middle temporal/angular gyrus. Among GG-homozygotes, BOLD signal in the subgenual cingulate was greater in MDD participants (n = 9) compared to controls (n = 33). Conversely, among A-carriers, BOLD signal was smaller in MDD (n = 7) compared to controls (n = 50) in the hypothalamus, bilateral amygdala, and left nucleus accumbens. Early life stress, personality traits, and levels of negative memory bias were associated with brain activity depending on genotype. Results from healthy controls and a preliminary sample of MDD participants show that CRHR1 SNP rs110402 moderates neural responses to emotional stimuli, suggesting a potential mechanism of vulnerability for the development of MDD.
The endogenous opioid system has been implicated in the pathophysiology of alcoholism as it modulates the neurobehavioral effects of alcohol. A variant in the mu opioid receptor gene (OPRM1), the Asn40Asp polymorphism, has received attention as a functional variant that may influence a host of behavioral phenotypes for alcoholism as well as clinical response to opioid antagonists. This paper will review converging lines of evidence on the effect of the Asn40Asp SNP on alcoholism phenotypes, including: (i) genetic association studies; (ii) behavioral studies of alcoholism; (iii) neuroimaging studies; (iv) pharmacogenetic studies and clinical trials; and (v) preclinical animal studies. Together, these lines of research seek to elucidate the effects of this functional polymorphism on alcoholism etiology and treatment response.
OPRM1; Pharmacogenetics; Genetics; Alcoholism; Naltrexone; Asn40Asp
Ethanol is metabolized by two rate limiting reactions: alcohol dehydrogenases (ADH) convert ethanol to acetaldehyde, subsequently metabolized to acetate by aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH). Approximately 50% of East Asians have genetic variants that significantly impair this pathway and influence alcohol dependence (AD) vulnerability. We investigated whether variation in alcohol metabolism genes might alter the AD risk in four non-East Asian populations by performing systematic haplotype association analyses in order to maximize the chances of capturing functional variation.
Haplotype-tagging SNPs were genotyped using the Illumina GoldenGate platform. Genotypes were available for 40 SNPs across the ADH genes cluster and 24 SNPs across the two ALDH genes in four diverse samples that included cases (lifetime AD) and controls (no Axis 1 disorders). The case, control sample sizes were: Finnish Caucasians: 232, 194; African Americans: 267, 422; Plains American Indians: 226, 110; Southwestern American (SW) Indians: 317, 72.
In all four populations, as well as HapMap populations, five haplotype blocks were identified across the ADH gene cluster: (1) ADH5-ADH4; (2) ADH6-ADH1A-ADH1B; (3) ADH1C; (4) intergenic; (5) ADH7. The ALDH1A1 gene was defined by four blocks and ALDH2 by one block. No haplotype or SNP association results were significant after correction for multiple comparisons; however several results, particularly for ALDH1A1 and ADH4, replicated earlier findings. There was an ALDH1A1 block 1 and 2 (extending from intron 5 to the 3′ UTR) yin yang haplotype (haplotypes that have opposite allelic configuration) association with AD in the Finns driven by SNPs rs3764435 and rs2303317 respectively, and an ALDH1A1 block 3 (including the promoter region) yin yang haplotype association in SW Indians driven by 5 SNPs, all in allelic identity. The ADH4 SNP rs3762894 was associated with AD in Plains Indians.
The systematic evaluation of alcohol metabolizing genes in four non-East Asian populations has shown only modest associations with AD, largely for ALDH1A1 and ADH4. A concentration of signals for AD with ALDH1A1 yin yang haplotypes in several populations warrants further study.
Alcohol dependence; alcohol dehydrogenases (ADH); aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH); haplotype association; ALDH1A1
Despite recent progress in describing the common neural circuitry of emotion and stress processing, the bases of individual variation are less well understood. Genetic variants that underlie psychiatric disease have proved particularly difficult to elucidate. Functional genetic variation of neuropeptide Y (NPY) was recently identified as a source of individual differences in emotion. Low NPY levels have been reported in major depressive disorder (MDD).
To determine whether low-expression NPY genotypes are associated with negative emotional processing at three levels of analysis.
Academic medical center.
Forty-four individuals with MDD and 137 healthy controls; 152 (84%) were classified by NPY genotype as low, intermediate, or high, according to previously established haplotype-based expression data.
Main Outcome Measures
Healthy subjects participated in functional magnetic resonance imaging while viewing negative (versus neutral) words (n=58), and rated positive and negative affect during a pain-stress challenge (n=78). Genotype distribution was compared between 113 control and 39 MDD subjects.
Among healthy individuals, negatively valenced words activated medial prefrontal cortex. Activation within this region was inversely related to genotype-predicted NPY expression (p=0.029). Whole-brain regression of responses to negative words showed that rostral anterior cingulate cortex activated in the low-expression group and deactivated in the high-expression group (p<0.05). During the stress challenge, individuals with low-expression NPY genotypes reported more negative affective experience before and after pain (p=0.002). Low-expression NPY genotypes were over-represented in MDD after controlling for age and sex (p=0.004). Population stratification did not account for the results.
These findings support a model in which NPY genetic variation predisposes certain individuals to low NPY expression, thereby increasing neural responsivity to negative stimuli within key affective circuit elements, including medial prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices. These genetically influenced neural response patterns appear to mediate risk for some forms of MDD.
By performing identical studies in humans and rats, we attempted to distinguish vulnerability factors for addiction from neurobiological effects of chronic drug exposure. We focused on the GABAergic system within the hippocampus, a brain region that is a constituent of the memory/conditioning neuronal circuitry of addiction that is considered to be important in drug reinforcement behaviors in animals and craving and relapse in humans.
Using RNA-Seq we quantified mRNA transcripts in postmortem total hippocampus from alcoholics, cocaine addicts and controls and also from alcohol-naïve, alcohol preferring (P) and non-preferring (NP) rats selectively bred for extremes of alcohol-seeking behavior that also show a general addictive tendency. A pathway-targeted analysis of 25 GABAergic genes encoding proteins implicated in GABA synthesis, metabolism, synaptic transmission and re-uptake was undertaken.
Directionally consistent and biologically plausible overlapping and specific changes were detected: 14/25 of the human genes and 12/25 of the rat genes showed nominally significant differences in gene expression (global p values: 9×10−14, 7×10−11 respectively). Principal FDR-corrected findings were that GABBR1 was down-regulated in alcoholics, cocaine addicts and P rats with congruent findings in NSF, implicated in GABAB signaling efficacy, potentially resulting in increased synaptic GABA. GABRG2, encoding the gamma2 subunit required for postsynaptic clustering of GABAA receptors together with GPHN, encoding the associated scaffolding protein gephryin, were both down-regulated in alcoholics and cocaine addicts but were both up-regulated in P rats. There were also expression changes specific to cocaine addicts (GAD1, GAD2), alcoholics (GABRA2) and P rats (ABAT, GABRG3).
Our study confirms the involvement of the GABAergic system in alcoholism but also reveals a hippocampal GABA input in cocaine addiction. Congruent findings in human addicts and P rats provide clues to predisposing factors for alcohol and drug addiction. Finally, the results of this study have therapeutic implications.