Introduction: One of the proposed psychobiological pathways of craving attributes the desire for drinking in the context of tension, discomfort or unpleasant emotions, to "negative" (or "relief") craving. The aim of this study was to replicate a previously reported association of the PDYN rs2281285 variant with negative craving using a different phenotyping approach. Methods: The TaqMan® Genotyping Assay was used to genotype the rs2281285 variant in 417 German alcohol-dependent subjects. The presence of negative/relief craving was assessed by asking if participants ever ingested alcohol to avoid unwanted emotional or somatic discomfort. Results: The minor allele of rs2281285 was associated with an increased risk of drinking to avoid/escape unwanted emotional or somatic events (OR = 2.29, 95% CI = 1.08-4.85, p = 0.0298). Discussion: Despite the use of a different phenotyping approach to the measurement of negative craving, our results confirm the association between negative craving and PDYN rs2281285. Genetic markers of negative craving may help to identify subgroups of alcohol-dependent individuals vulnerable to relapse in the context of negative emotions or somatic discomfort, leading to the development of specifically tailored treatment strategies.
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