A variant in the regulatory region of a gene could influence opioid addiction risk among European and African Americans, CNN reports.
Yale University School of Medicine's Joel Gelernter and his colleagues conducted a genome-wide association study of 3,058 European Americans who had taken opioids, 1,290 of whom met the criteria to be considered opioid dependent. In this cohort, they identified a variant on chromosome 15 near the RGMA gene that was associated with opioid dependence, as they report in Behavioral Psychiatry. The researchers then confirmed their finding in a cohort of 2,014 African Americans.
The risk allele, rs12442183*T, was associated with increased expression of RGMA in the frontal cortex, Gelernter and his colleagues note. Additionally, in a mouse model of opioid addiction, they found that the homologous mouse gene of RGMA was upregulated.
CNN notes that Gelernter and his colleagues previously identified other gene variants linked to addiction risk, and that this new finding still needs to be replicated
"I hope it's amenable to therapy," Gelernter tells CNN, "but it might not be."