April 23, 2009

Genetic impulsivity predicts alcoholism

Genetic predisposition to impulsivity is a trait predictive of alcoholism, U.S. researchers report.

Nicholas Grahame of the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis School of Science used selective breeding for 30 generations to produce mice that were high-volume alcohol drinkers and others that avoided consuming alcohol.

The genetically different mice were presented with a choice between a small, immediate reward and a large, delayed reward. By adjusting the quantity of the immediate reward up and down based on choice behavior, the task allowed the researchers to test the impulsivity of the rodents.

The study, published online ahead of print of the July issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, found the mice with high alcohol preferring genes were more impulsive than their low drinking counterparts -- demonstrating that predisposition to impulsivity is predictive of alcoholism.

Our data can clearly be extrapolated to humans and strongly suggests that impulsivity contributes to high alcohol drinking, Grahame said in a statement. Consequently, the diagnosis of any disorder associated with impulsivity, such as attention deficit disorder or bipolar disorder, is cause for concern about future problems with alcoholism.