Independent and Interactive Effects of OPRM1 and DAT1 Polymorphisms on Alcohol Consumption and Subjective Responses in Social Drinkers

Elise M. Weerts, Gary S. Wand, Brion Maher, Xiaoqiang Xu, Mary Ann Stephens, Xiaoju Yang, Mary E. McCaul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: The current study examined independent and interactive effects of polymorphisms of the mu opioid receptor gene (OPRM1, A118G) and variable number tandem repeats of the dopamine transporter gene (DAT1, SLC6A3) on alcohol consumption and subjective responses to alcohol in 127 young, healthy, social drinkers. Methods: Participants completed an in-person assessment, which included self-reported alcohol drinking patterns and blood sampling for DNA, and in a second visit, a cumulative alcohol dosing procedure with subjective ratings across multiple time points and breath alcohol contents (0.03 to 0.1%). DNA was analyzed for OPRM1 AA versus AG/GG (*G) genotypes, DAT1 10-repeat allele (A10) versus 9 or lesser alleles (A9), and ancestral informative markers. Results: There were significant epistatic interactions between OPRM1 and DAT1 genotypes. Subjective High Assessment Scale scores after alcohol consumption were highest in *G and A9 carriers, and lowest in *G and A10 carriers. Negative subjective effects were also highest in *G and A9 carriers. Effects were similar in a sensitivity analysis limited to Caucasian subjects. There were independent and epistatic interactions on drinking. The OPRM1 *G allele was independently associated with fewer heavy drinking days. The A9 allele was associated with a greater number of drinking days, which was attenuated in carriers of the *G allele. Conclusions: These findings highlight the biological importance of interactions between these 2 genes and interactions between brain opioid and dopamine systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1093-1104
Number of pages12
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • A118G
  • Alcohol
  • Dopamine Transporter Gene
  • Intermediate Phenotype
  • Mu Opioid Receptor Gene
  • Polymorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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