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Could Novel Gene Variant Reduce Opioid Physical Dependence?

Study provides new lead to understanding the pathophysiology of opioid physical dependence

A PPM Brief

A European study of just over 3,000 individuals meeting criteria for DSM-IV opioid dependence associated RGMA with the condition. Concluded the researchers, this “provides a new lead into our understanding of OD [opioid dependence] pathophysiology.”

It is important to note that opioid dependence is not the same as addiction. “Addiction” refers to compulsively using a substance despite harmful consequences, whereas “dependence” means the body physiologically needs the substance to function normally. Patients who are managing chronic pain with opioids often become dependent. This study, while early, may provide ways for preventing dependence in the future.

The meta-analysis involved four cohorts: Yale-Penn 1 (n = 1388), Yale-Penn 2 (n = 996), Yale-Penn 3 (n = 98), and SAGE (Study of Addiction: Genetics and Environment) (n = 576). Researchers identified a variant on chromosome 15, rs12442183, near RGMA, associated with OD (p = 1.3 × 10−8), according to the paper.  RGMA encodes repulsive guidance molecule A—a central nervous system axon guidance protein. “The association was also genome-wide significant in Yale-Penn 1 taken individually and nominally significant in two of the other three samples.”

Last updated on: January 3, 2019
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Office-based Treatment of Opioid Physical Dependence
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