Common variants in the CHRNA5-A3-B4 gene cluster have been shown to be associated with nicotine dependence and alcohol use disorders (AUDs) and related traits, including the level of response (LR) to alcohol. Recently, rare variants (MAF < 0.05) in CHRNB4 have been reported to be associated with a decreased risk of developing nicotine dependence. However, the role of rare variants in the CHRNA5-A3-B4 gene cluster to the LR to alcohol has not yet been established.
These results indicate that rare genetic variation in the CHRNA5-A3-B4 gene cluster contributes modestly to the LR to alcohol in the San Diego Sibling Pair study and may protect against AUDs. However, replication studies are needed to confirm our findings.
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