Asians who are struggling with alcoholism may benefit especially from naltrexone, one of three medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of alcoholism, according to a new UCLA psychology research.
Recent research has found that a gene variant may predict naltrexone treatment success for alcoholism.
About 50 percent of patients of Asian descent have a particular mutation that makes them likely to benefit from naltrexone, compared with about 20 percent of Caucasians and less than 5 percent of African Americans, said lead study author Lara Ray, an assistant professor of psychology and director of the UCLA Addictions Laboratory.
The mutation in question is in the OPRM1 gene, which codes for the mu opioid receptors in the brain.
People with 'AG' or 'GG' variants of OPRM1 have better clinical alcohol-treatment outcomes with naltrexone than those with the 'AA' variant, Ray said, adding that approximately half of Asians have at least one copy of the "G" nucleotide at the particular location.
"Our results revealed that naltrexone reduced the positive feelings of alcohol intoxication among individuals with the 'AG' or 'GG' genotypes but not among those with the 'AA' genotype," stated Ray.
The findings have been published online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.