Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), the principal enzymes responsible for oxidative metabolism of ethanol, exist in multiple, genetically determined molecular forms. Widely different kinetic properties in some of these isozymes account for the individual differences in alcohol sensitivity. In this study we used the polymerase chain reaction/restriction fragment length polymorphism method to determine the genotypes of the ADH2 and ALDH2 loci of alcoholic and nonalcoholic Chinese living in Shanghai. We also investigated the subjects' drinking patterns by means of semistructured interviews. The alcoholics had significantly lower frequencies of the ADH22 and ALDH22 alleles than did the nonalcoholics, suggesting the inhibitory effects of these alleles for the development of alcoholism. In the nonalcoholic subjects, ADH22 had little, if any, effect, despite the significant effect of the ALDH22 allele in decreasing the alcohol consumption of the individual. Taken together, these results fit the proposed hypothesis for the development of alcoholism, i.e., drinking behavior is greatly influenced by the individual's gentoypes of alcohol-metabolizing enzymes, and the risk of becoming alcoholic is proportionate with the ethanol consumption of the individual.
ASJC Scopus subject areas