Previous population association studies have indicated that certain alleles of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) genes may reduce the risk of alcoholism in Oriental populations. In this report we determined the genotypes for three genes, ADH2, ADH3, and ALDH2 among subjects with alcohol dependence (n = 159) and ethnically matched normal controls (n = 149) for the four largest aboriginal groups (Atayal, Ami, Bunun, and Paiwan) in Taiwan. The ethnicity matching used in this study was feasible because there are still few intergroup marriages between these aboriginal groups. On a group level, the rare frequencies of ALDH2*2, the inactive allele of ALDH2 among these aborigines may account partially for their vulnerability to alcohol use disorders. On an individual level, however, the genotypes controlling alcohol metabolism did not account for intragroup differences in vulnerability to alcoholism except in the case of ADH2 for the Ami ethnic group.
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