Background: Adenosine is involved in several neurological and behavioral disorders including alcoholism. In cultured cell and animal studies, type 1 equilibrative nucleoside transporter (ENT1, slc29a1), which regulates adenosine levels, is known to regulate ethanol sensitivity and preference. Interestingly, in humans, the ENT1 (SLC29A1) gene contains a nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphism (647 T/C; rs45573936) that might be involved in the functional change of ENT1. Principal Findings: Our functional analysis showed that prolonged ethanol exposure increased adenosine uptake activity of mutant cells (ENT1-216Thr) compared to wild-type (ENT1-216Ile) transfected cells, which might result in reduced extracellular adenosine levels. We found that mice lacking ENT1 displayed increased propensity to ethanol withdrawal seizures compared to wild-type littermates. We further investigated a possible association of the 647C variant with alcoholism and the history of alcohol withdrawal seizures in subjects of European ancestry recruited from two independent sites. Analyses of the combined data set showed an association of the 647C variant and alcohol dependence with withdrawal seizures at the nominally significant level. Conclusions: Together with the functional data, our findings suggest a potential contribution of a genetic variant of ENT1 to the development of alcoholism with increased risk of alcohol withdrawal-induced seizures in humans.
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