Researchers find genetic variants linked to smoking behaviors

Apr 26, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- In a paper published in the journal Nature Genetics, a UNC team reported that three genetic regions were associated with the number of cigarettes smoked per day, one region was associated with smoking initiation and one variant was associated with smoking cessation.

A team of scientists has used data from genome-wide association studies to identify genetic variants associated with key smoking behaviors that have a significant impact on health.

UNC-Chapel Hill genetics faculty members and UNC Lineberger members Helena Furberg, PhD and Patrick Sullivan, MD led the largest genetic study of smoking, called the Tobacco and Genetics Consortium (TAG), collaborating with scientists from 16 large genetic studies world-wide. They compared the profiles between and non-smokers to examine whether genetic variants affect whether people start to smoke. They also compared the DNA among smokers to see if genetic variants affected the number of cigarettes smoked per day, the age when people began to smoke and whether smokers were able to quit.

“In a paper published today in the journal Nature Genetics, the team reported that three genetic regions were associated with the number of cigarettes smoked per day, one region was associated with smoking initiation and one variant was associated with . The variants on chromosome 15 that were associated with heavy smoking lie within a region that contains nicotinic receptor genes, which other scientists have previously associated with dependence and .

“We hope that this work will allow researchers from multiple disciplines to develop a better understanding of the genetics of addiction and evaluate how drug-gene interactions could be used to create and tailor therapies to improve the rates of smoking cessation,” said Furberg.

“More work needs to be done before these findings can be used to treat smokers who wish to quit. At this time, testing for these variants will not tell you anything meaningful about your risk of smoking or . Of course, all smokers should be encouraged to quit regardless of their genetic make-up,” she added.

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) search for genetic variants involved in a disease which may ultimately help prevent, diagnose, and treat the disease. Because smoking behavior is associated with many diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, the researchers were able to assemble more data to test the links between genetic variants and smoking than any one study could provide alone. The Tobacco and Genetics Consortium also collaborated with two other groups from Europe to confirm their findings; all three papers appear in Nature Genetics.

Explore further: Scientists discover an on/off switch for aging cells

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Heart attack risk from smoking due to genetics

Dec 19, 2007

Heart attacks among cigarette smokers may have less to do with tobacco than genetics. A common defect in a gene controlling cholesterol metabolism boosts smokers’ risk of an early heart attack, according to a new study ...

DNA (driver of nicotine addiction)

Jan 29, 2008

Cigarette smoking is the largest preventable source of death and disability in the USA, contributing to ~ 400,000 deaths annually. Despite widespread knowledge of the health dangers, ~ 1 in 8 American adults is a habitual ...

Studies identify DNA regions linked to nicotine dependence

Feb 14, 2007

Americans are bombarded with antismoking messages, yet at least 65 million of us continue to light up. Genetic factors play an important role in this continuing addiction to cigarettes, suggest scientists at Washington University ...

Recommended for you

Scientists discover an on/off switch for aging cells

9 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Scientists at the Salk Institute have discovered an on-and-off "switch" in cells that may hold the key to healthy aging. This switch points to a way to encourage healthy cells to keep dividing ...

Gene variant that dramatically reduces 'bad' lipids

Sep 16, 2014

In the first study to emerge from the UK10K Project's cohort of samples from the general public, scientists have identified a rare genetic variant that dramatically reduces levels of certain types of lipids in the blood. ...

New diagnostic method identifies genetic diseases

Sep 16, 2014

People with genetic diseases often have to embark on an odyssey from one doctor to the next. Fewer than half of all patients who are suspected of having a genetic disease actually receive a satisfactory diagnosis. Scientists ...

User comments : 0