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Stress-induced and cue-induced craving for alcohol in heavy drinkers: Preliminary evidence of genetic moderation by the OPRM1 and CRH-BP genes.

Ray L.A.

BACKGROUND: Neurobiological theories of addiction have highlighted disruption in stress pathways as a central feature of addictive disorders, and pharmacological treatments targeting stress mechanisms hold great promise. This study examines genetic determinants of stress-induced and cue-induced craving in heavy drinkers by testing single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the corticotrophin-releasing hormone binding protein (CRH-BP) gene and the mu-opioid receptor (OPRM1) gene. METHODS: This study combines guided imagery stress exposure and in vivo alcohol cue exposure in a sample of 64 (23 women) non-treatment-seeking heavy drinkers. RESULTS: Analyses, uncorrected for multiple comparisons, revealed that a tag SNP of the CRH-BP gene (rs10055255) moderated stress-induced craving in this sample. The same SNP predicted greater affective responses to the stress manipulation, including greater levels of subjective tension and negative mood. The Asp40 allele of the OPRM1 was associated with greater cue-induced alcohol craving following the neutral imagery condition. CONCLUSIONS: These initial results extend recent preclinical and clinical findings implicating the CRH-BP in stress-related alcoholism and confirm the role of the Asp40 allele of the OPRM1 gene in reward-driven alcohol phenotypes. Human laboratory models of stress and cue-induced craving may be useful in pharmacotherapy development targeting dysregulation of stress systems. Larger studies are needed to validate these preliminary findings, which should also be extended to clinical samples.

Alcohol. Clin. Exp. Res. 35:166-174(2011) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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