Genetic Markers of Comorbid Depression and Alcoholism in Women

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Background: Alcohol dependence (AD) is often accompanied by comorbid depression. Recent clinical evidence supports the benefit of subtype-specific pharmacotherapy in treating the population of alcohol-dependent subjects with comorbid major depressive disorder (MDD). However, in many alcohol-dependent subjects, depression is a reactive response to chronic alcohol use and withdrawal and abates with a period of abstinence. Genetic markers may distinguish alcohol-dependent subjects with MDD not tied chronologically and etiologically to their alcohol consumption. In this work, we investigated the association of adenylyl cyclase genes (ADCY1-9), which are implicated in both AD and mood disorders, with alcoholism and comorbid depression. Methods: Subjects from Vienna, Austria (n = 323) were genotyped, and single nucleotide polymorphisms (1,152) encompassing the genetic locations of the 9 ADCY genes were examined. The Vienna cohort contained alcohol-dependent subjects differentiated using the Lesch Alcoholism Typology. In this typology, subjects are segregated into 4 types. Type III alcoholism is distinguished by co-occurrence of symptoms of depression and by affecting predominantly females. Results: We identified 4 haplotypes associated with the phenotype of Type III alcoholism in females. One haplotype was in a genomic area in proximity to ADCY2, but actually within a lincRNA gene, 2 haplotypes were within ADCY5, and 1 haplotype was within the coding region of ADCY8. Three of the 4 haplotypes contributed independently to Type III alcoholism and together generated a positive predictive value of 72% and a negative predictive value of 78% for distinguishing women with a Lesch Type III diagnosis versus women designated as Type I or II alcoholics. Conclusions: Polymorphisms in ADCY8 and ADCY5 and within a lincRNA are associated with an alcohol-dependent phenotype in females, which is distinguished by comorbid signs of depression. Each of these genetic locations can rationally contribute to the polygenic etiology of the alcoholism/depression phenotype, and the use of these genetic markers may aid in choosing appropriate and beneficial treatment strategies. © 2012 by the Research Society on Alcoholism.

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