Science / Medicine : Cirrhosis: Gene Connection?

<i> Compiled from staff and wire reports</i>

Researchers report that some alcoholics may be genetically predisposed to developing cirrhosis of the liver, a life-threatening condition that strikes up to one in five alcoholics.

Scientists from New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Toronto-based Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Research Foundation report they have found a certain variant of a collagen gene is far more prevalent in alcoholics who have liver cirrhosis than those who do not. Previous research has shown an increase in collagen type 1--a major protein in connective tissue--is linked to the development of chronic alcoholic liver disease.

In a study in Molecular Aspects of Medicine, Dr. Mark Zern of Albert Einstein College and his colleagues found that 13 of the 15 alcoholics who had cirrhosis had a certain genetic variation, while that variation was found in only two of the 11 alcoholics without cirrhosis and two of the 15 non-alcoholics.