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More Evidence That Alcoholism Runs in Families

Researchers identify gene linked to alcohol dependency

WEDNESDAY, May 26, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A gene linked to alcohol dependency has been identified by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

They found laboratory mice with a deficiency in the CREB gene consumed excessive amounts of alcohol. The mice preferred ethanol to water and were highly anxious while doing maze tests.

The CREB gene produces a protein that regulates brain function during development and learning.

"This is the first direct evidence that a deficiency in the CREB gene is associated with anxiety and alcohol-drinking behaviors," Subhash Pandey, director of neuroscience alcoholism research at the UIC College of Medicine, said in a prepared statement.

Pandey suggested the mice with the CREB gene deficiency preferred ethanol to water because the ethanol reduced their anxiety, a situation often found in humans.

"Some 30 to 70 percent of alcoholics are reported to suffer from anxiety and depression. Drinking is a way for these individuals to self-medicate," Pandey said.

The study appears in the May 26 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about alcohol abuse.

SOURCE: University of Illinois at Chicago, news release, May 26, 2004
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