Inactive aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 (ALDH2) is a well-known deterrent to the development of alcohol use disorder (AUD), however, some individuals with inactive ALDH2 do go on to develop AUD. These alcoholics are likely to have strong risk factors for the development of this disorder. Using a model of alcoholics with inactive ALDH2 (the AIA model), we investigated the unique characteristics of alcoholics with inactive ALDH2 in an attempt to identify the risk factors for AUD. In this study, we focused on comorbid psychiatric and personality disorders as potential risk factors for AUD.
The subjects were 103 male alcoholics with inactive ALDH2 (AIAs), 87 age- and ADH1B genotype-matched alcoholics with active ALDH2 (AAAs) and 200 age-matched healthy men. The alcoholics were divided into 4 subgroups according to their ALDH2 and ADH1B genotypes (inactive ALDH2 vs. active ALDH2, usual ADH1B vs. superactive ADH1B). To assess the participants’ comorbid psychiatric disorders, we conducted semi-structured interviews using the Japanese translation of SSAGA version 2. We compared the prevalence of comorbid psychiatric and personality disorders among groups with different combinations of the ALDH2 and ADH1B genotypes.
The prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was significantly higher in the AIAs with usual ADH1B than in the other 3 subgroups of alcoholics. In contrast, the prevalence rates of agoraphobia and panic disorder were significantly lower in the AIAs with superactive ADH1B than in the other 3 subgroups of alcoholics.
This study suggested that (1) ADHD is a risk factor for AUD, consistent with previous reports; (2) agoraphobia and panic disorder may have deterrent effects against the development of AUD in individuals with inactive ALDH2, probably attributable to the similarity between the symptoms of agoraphobia and panic disorder and the adverse reactions to consumption of alcohol in subjects with inactive ALDH2.

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