DNA May Actually Contain Addiction Gene

Researchers have identified another gene that may influence an individual’s risk of opioid dependence. This adds further evidence that genetic factors play a crucial role in determining who develops an addiction.

Opioid Addiction Gene Found in DNA

The study, published in Biological Psychiatry, analyzed the genomes of more than 5,000 Americans who had been exposed to opioids, looking at the differences between those who developed opioid dependence and those who didn’t. A genetic variant was found on one chromosome, near a gene called RGMA, which was associated with opioid dependence in European- and African-Americans. Members of the same research team have identified other genetic variants related to opioid dependence in the past.

Gene Expression

In human DNA samples, researchers found a correlation between the expression of RGMA and a few other genes that have been linked to psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, autism, and Alzheimer’s. However,¬†addiction and mental illness are affected by multiple genes. For example, schizophrenia has been connected to more than¬†100 genetic markers; it’s likely that this is just another piece of the overall genetic addiction puzzle.

Genetics of Addiction

40% to 60% of a person’s addiction vulnerability is related to their specific genetic factors, including the impact of environmental factors on how those genes work (according to NIDA). These numbers explain the variability across a population more than how much of an individual’s addiction risk is determined by their genes. The relevant¬†importance of any genetic or environmental factor varies from person to person. One gene can have very little or very much impact on addiction; it’s all about whether or not all of the elements line up to create that high percentage of addiction.

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