eISSN: 1689-3530
ISSN: 0867-4361
Alcoholism and Drug Addiction/Alkoholizm i Narkomania
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2/2021
vol. 34
 
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abstract:
Original article

Association of oxytocin gene polymorphism with psychological distress, suicidal ideation and relapse in alcohol-dependent patients

Anna Mach
1
,
Anna Klimkiewicz
1
,
Sylwia Fudalej
1
,
Andrzej Jakubczyk
1
,
Maciej Kopera
1
,
Margit Burmeister
2, 3
,
Kirk J. Brower
2
,
Marcin Wojnar
1, 2

1.
Department of Psychiatry, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
2.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
3.
Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, Departments of Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics and of Human Genetics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Alcohol Drug Addict 2021; 34 (2): 91-104
Online publish date: 2021/10/01
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Introduction
Oxytocin (OXT) is an important neurohormone involved in regulating the stress response with both behavioural and physiological aspects. It has anxiolytic and antidepressant properties. Studies on the mechanisms of dependence suggest that stress and psychological symptoms like anxiety and depression may increase susceptibility to alcohol use disorders (AUD) and the risk of relapse. The aim of this study was to analyse the relationships between oxytocin gene (OXT) polymorphisms, psychological distress and the severity of suicidal ideation in alcohol-dependent patients.

Material and methods
The study included 288 adult patients who fulfilled a DSM-IV diagnostic criteria of alcohol dependence and participated in alcohol treatment programmes in Warsaw, Poland. The Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) was used to assess the level of psychological distress and the Beck Scale for Suicidal Ideation (BSS) measured the severity of suicidal ideation. Four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the region of OXT gene were analysed (rs4813625, rs877172, rs3761248 and rs2740210).

Results
Statistical analysis of the obtained data showed a nominally significant association between the GT genotype in the rs2740210 polymorphism of the OXT gene region and symptoms of psychological distress in alcohol-dependent patients (p = 0.0262). After the Bonferroni correction (pBonferroni < 0.0125), this relationship was statistically significant in the group of patients with a family history of alcohol problems and patients who had returned to drinking after treatment. Moreover, the GT genotype was statistically significantly associated with the severity of suicidal ideation in a the post-treatment relapsing patient group.

Discussion
Our results suggest that the oxytocin system may play an important role in patients with alcohol dependence through its association with psychological distress.

Conclusions
The rs2740210 polymorphism in the region of the OXT gene should be studied further as a prognostic factor in the course and treatment of alcohol use disorders.

keywords:

Alcohol dependence, Alcohol use disorder, Genetic polymorphism, Oxytocin, Psychological distress, Suicidal ideation

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