Subjective response to alcohol and ADH polymorphisms in a select sample of young adult male East Indians and Africans in Trinidad and Tobago

Lazara K.arelia Montane Jaime, Samuel Shafe, Tiebing Liang, Derek N. Wills, Greta I. Berg, Cindy L. Ehlers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Level of response to alcohol has been associated with risk of alcohol dependence in a number of ethnic groups. In the present study, subjective and objective responses to alcohol were evaluated in Indo-Trinidadians (Indo-T) and Afro-Trinidadians (Afro-T). Associations of alcohol dehydrogenase polymorphisms with response to alcohol, using the Subjective High Assessment Scale (SHAS), and breath alcohol concentrations (BrAC) were tested.

METHOD: Regular male drinkers without alcohol dependence (n = 112) ages 18-25 years participated in alcohol challenge sessions consisting of placebo and two doses of alcohol (target BrAC: 0 g/dl for placebo, .04 g/dl low dose, and .08 g/dl high dose) and genotyped for variants in ADH1B*3 and ADH1C*2.

RESULTS: Indo-T had significantly higher BrAC, pulse rates, and cortisol levels when compared with Afro-T but did not have significantly higher SHAS values. Higher responses on the SHAS items muddle/confused and nauseated were significantly associated with the presence of at least one ADH1B*3 allele following the high dose of alcohol in Afro-T. Indo-T with at least one ADH1C*2 allele displayed significantly different Drug × Time interactions for the SHAS item effects of alcohol at the low dose and for the SHAS items clumsy, muddle/confused, effects of alcohol, floating, drunk, and total at the high dose from Indo-T with two ADH1C*1 alleles.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study that has investigated individual sensitivity to alcohol in a Caribbean population and in people of East Indian descent. Indo-T with at least one ADH1C*2 allele may be at higher risk for heavy drinking by feeling less of the effects of alcohol, including nausea. In Afro-T, having at least one ADH1B*3 allele appears to exert a protective effect by enhancing the unpleasant effects of alcohol, such as nausea and confusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)827-838
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of studies on alcohol and drugs
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Subjective response to alcohol and ADH polymorphisms in a select sample of young adult male East Indians and Africans in Trinidad and Tobago'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this