A massive study of past research on autism recently conducted in London shows a potential link between alcoholism and an autism gene. Looking at the role of hereditary factors in the development of drinking problems, researchers found that expression of a gene called Autism Susceptibility Candidate 2 (AUTS2) was associated with alcoholism. In postmortem examinations of brain tissue, this gene was found in various parts of the brain, most notably the frontal lobe, which is involved in the craving for alcohol.
Study data of 26,316 participants in 12 European-ancestry populations were collected along with the amount of alcohol that they consumed per day. Subjects were also all examined for the presence of the aforementioned autism gene AUTS2. Twenty-seven of the postmortem brain tissue samples were from alcoholics who had committed suicide, and there were also 69 control samples from non-alcoholic individuals who had died of heart ailments. Mouse experiments also looked at alcohol consumption and expression of AUTS2 as well.
A statistically significant association between amounts of alcohol consumed and AUTS2 gene expression was noted. The presence of the gene was also found to be very high in brain samples of alcoholics. It was also high in the brain-tissue of “alcohol-preferring” mice.
So can this information help? Indeed it’s helpful to know what you’re dealing with and this paves the way for improved and earlier treatments of genetic disorders. It is estimated that 40 percent of alcoholics have some genetic predisposition. Knowledge of genetic factors may improve treatment for those who wish to abstain from consuming alcohol.