The D2 dopamine receptor (DRD2) has been one of the most extensively investigated gene in neuropsychiatric disorders. After the first association of the TaqI A DRD2 minor (A1) allele with severe alcoholism in 1990, a large number of international studies have followed. A meta-analysis of these studies of Caucasians showed a significantly higher DRD2 A1 allelic frequency and prevalence in alcoholics when compared to controls. Variants of the DRD2 gene have also been associated with other addictive disorders including cocaine, nicotine and opioid dependence and obesity. It is hypothesized that the DRD2 is a reinforcement or reward gene. The DRD2 gene has also been implicated in schizophrenia, posttraumatic stress disorder, movement disorders and migraine. Phenotypic differences have been associated with DRD2 variants. These include reduced D2 dopamine receptor numbers and diminished glucose metabolism in brains of subjects who carry the DRD2 A1 allele. In addition, pleiotropic effects of DRD2 variants have been observed in neurophysiologic, neuropsychologic, stress response, personality and treatment outcome characteristics. The involvement of the DRD2 gene in certain neuropsychiatric disorders opens up the potential of a targeted pharmacogenomic approach to the treatment of these disorders.
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