Gene Network Linked To Lifetime Alcohol Consumption Interview with:
R. Dayne Mayfield PhD and Sean Farris Post Doc Fellow
Harris Lab
Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research
University of Texas at Austin

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study?

Response: Alcoholism is psychiatric disorder adversely affecting the health of millions of individuals worldwide. Despite considerable research efforts, alcoholism cannot be attributed to any individual gene. We sought out to identify coordinately regulated gene networks, rather than a single candidate gene, that may be collectively driving the consumption of alcohol.

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings?

Response: Our work identified a gene expression network that is associated with lifetime consumption of alcohol. Several genes known to have a pharmacological role for alcohol were a part of this network; however, a number of genes with little or no known function for alcohol made up the vast majority of the network.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Although subtle, extensive changes in gene expression can be found throughout different areas of the brain. The changes occurring in alcoholics are related in part to the amount of alcohol being consumed, and pre-existing genetic factors.          

MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: I hope that future research will take into account gene network-centric, rather than gene-centric, approaches to understand the neurobiology of alcoholism and other psychiatric disorders.


Transcriptome organization for chronic alcohol abuse in human brain

S P Farris, D Arasappan, S Hunicke-Smith, R A Harris and R D Mayfield
Molecular Psychiatry , (2 December 2014) | doi:10.1038/mp.2014.159



Last Updated on December 5, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD