20 Jan Key Clock Genes Linked To Alcohol Use and Abuse
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Alcohol-use disorders are often comorbid conditions with mood and anxiety disorders. Clinical studies have demonstrated that there are abnormalities in circadian rhythms and intrinsic clocks in patients with alcohol-use disorders. Circadian clock gene variants are therefore a fruitful target of interest.
The main findings are that variants of key clock genes, namely those of ARNTL, ARNTL2, PER1 and PER2, have association with alcohol consumption, with alcohol abuse, or with alcohol dependence. It is of interest that variants of a fifth clock gene of key importance, that is those of CLOCK, are associated with alcohol-use disorders only if comorbid with depressive disorders.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: It is too early to give any implication for clinical practice on the basis of these findings. So, the current take-home message to clinicians or patients is that research on the topic has advanced, but clinical applications still remain to be seen.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Characterization of the functional relevance of these genetic variants and the mechanistic basis of these associations need to be elucidated in order to have the first insight of the potential, if any, small-molecule medication options for treatment of alcohol-use disorders.