Polymorphisms of the dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4 VNTR) and cannabinoid CB1 receptor gene (CNR1) are not strongly related to cue-reactivity after alcohol exposure

E. van den Wildenberg*, R.G.J.H. Janssen, K. Hutchinson, G.J.P. van Breukelen, R.W.H.J. Wiers

*Corresponding author for this work

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Polymorphisms in the D4 dopamine receptor gene (DRD4) and the CB1 cannabinoid receptor gene (CNR1) have been associated with a differential response to alcohol after consumption. The goal of the present study was to investigate whether heavy drinkers with these polymorphisms would respond with enhanced cue-reactivity after alcohol exposure. Eighty-eight male heavy drinkers were genotyped for the DRD4 variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) [either DRD4 long (L) or short (S)] and the CNR1 rs2023239 polymorphism (either CT/CC or TT). Participants were exposed to water and beer in 3-minute trials. Dependent variables of main interest were subjective craving for alcohol, subjective arousal and salivary reactivity. Overall, no strong evidence was found for stronger cue-reactivity (= outcome difference between beer and water trial) in the DRD4 L and CNR1 C allele groups. The DRD4 VNTR polymorphism tended to moderate salivary reactivity such that DRD4 L participants showed a larger beverage effect than the DRD4 S participants. Unexpectedly, the DRD4 L participants reported, on average, less craving for alcohol and more subjective arousal during cue exposure, compared with the DRD4 S participants. As weekly alcohol consumption increased, the CNR1 C allele group tended to report more craving for alcohol during the alcohol exposure than the T allele group. The DRD4 and CNR1 polymorphisms do not appear to strongly moderate cue-reactivity after alcohol cue exposure, in male heavy drinkers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-220
JournalAddiction Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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