MAOA, alcoholism & abuse

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Gene Variant Increases Risk For Alcoholism Following Childhood Abuse. We’ve been following this story for years in various forms. Here’s the article in Molecular Psychiatry (a Nature journal). From the abstract:

The MAOA-LPR low activity allele was associated with alcoholism…particularly antisocial alcoholism…only among sexually abused subjects. Sexually abused women who were homozygous for the low activity allele had higher rates of alcoholism and ASPD, and more ASPD symptoms, than abused women homozygous for the high activity allele. Heterozygous women displayed an intermediate risk pattern…The MAOA-LPR low activity allele was found on three different haplotypes. The most abundant MAOA haplotype containing the MAOA-LPR low activity allele was found in excess among alcoholics…and antisocial alcoholics…Finally, a MAOB haplotype, which we termed haplotype C, was significantly associated with alcoholism…and to a lesser extent with antisocial alcoholism….

(the ellipses are p-values)



  1. I’d be interested to hear you weigh on this:,,2109494,00.html

  2. what do you want me to say? basically this is individual liberty vs. individual utility. the situation is so extreme that people are sacrificing the former for the latter. i don’t know if it is racist, but it is certainly racialist. the disparate effect of alcohol on various populations is well known. this is what you get when these populations live under the same legal regime.

  3. In “Rubicon”, a popular history about the end of the Roman Republic, the writer mentions the adverse effect of the wine trade on the population of Gaul. It seems the Gauls couldn’t handle their liquor, and pretty soon the Romans created for themselves a market of binge drinkers and alcoholics (in exchange they would get slaves). 
    Nowadays the French are not known to be immoderate drinkers, though this is little consolation for the Aborigines.

    Nowadays the French are not known to be immoderate drinkers, though this is little consolation for the Aborigines.
    well, 2,000 years of copious alcohol consumption might have sufficient selective power. additionally, an mild admixture of latin colonials could also have spread the genes very quickly (each latin colony could have been a point of initiation from which the favored alleles swept through the populations).

  5. In a society where alcoholic men were able to drink away the money that would have been spent on their family, and no effective safety net existed to help their children, the selection against genes that promoted alcoholism would be enormous (assuming the ubiquity of alcohol, of course…). Two thousand years seems like plenty of time.

  6. I often hear of the Gauls (and Franks) as being german tribes. Where they pretty much indistinguishable from the other german tribes of the time, or where they already distinct? How different are Germans and French today?